In practically every industry, startups are shaking things up and providing fresh business models, perspectives, and products. It’s no different in the heavily regulated world of finance, thanks to the power of cloud computing. Indeed, the fintech, or financial technology, sector is one of the most interesting verticals that have sprung up in the modern economy.
The sector has fundamentally changed the way people interact with money. More types of transactions are available. Faster money transfers and payments are now possible. And in many parts of the world, fintech newcomers have brought financial services to communities that were otherwise lagging behind and left out of the global revolution.
The most well-known fintech player is PayPal, who back in 1998 was one of the first on the scene to revolutionize money transfers by using the internet. There are lots of competitors in that space these days, but fintech also encompasses transaction monitoring, authentication, fraud protection, and cryptocurrency companies. More payment options, faster transactions, better security, and expanded financial services are what this budding industry is all about.
The threat of disrupting their competitors—the traditional banking infrastructure—still hangs in the air. So what happens now? How will the fintech sector fare in the coming years? And what will be its localization challenges?
Fintech coexists with banking
Around 2015, when fintech companies began to appear prominently on the world economic scene, it seemed that banks would reach their end-of-life stage. After all, if your phone could replace your wallet and the credit card in it, why would you need banks?
In reality, it hasn’t quite played out that way; fintech is part of the larger financial services landscape and still depends on the banking system for its own existence. (The money that flows through your phone apps still comes from a bank account somewhere.) So while there’s enough space for fintech companies to grow independently, they ultimately will still need to work with banks to bolster their services rather than disrupt them. Many of the new fintech startups are developing technologies and software for larger institutions, making banks the customers. Fintech acquisitions by banks will also become more common.
The lines blur between banking and tech
If anything, the arrival of fintech has made banks realize the inevitability and immediacy of adopting technology. In fact, banks today have gone many steps further than just adopting tech; they are partnering with fintech companies to be able to provide more high-tech products and services without investing the time and money to build their own competing products. It remains to be seen how this blurring of traditional banking and tech will affect fintech’s prospects.
There is a need to understand localization
Fintech companies are attracted to global markets. With web-based tools, mobile apps, and cloud-based software, it seems easy to transport their home-market content to other countries and regions. But that's not necessarily the case. Many of these startups were born out of an unfulfilled local need and often grow well as long as they remain in their countries of origin. When the time comes to go global, they experience fully the pressures and demands of translation and localization—and this is where their larger competitors have an edge over them.
Fintech localization is about much more than translating web content. This industry has to be concerned with different currencies, payment practices, and regulations, not to mention ensuring that foreign exchange rates are updated to the last second. It's vital to know who your customers are, where they are located, and what services they are trying to acquire at all times in order to be able to provide the right services and be in full compliance.
Budding fintech companies have definitely expanded global financial possibilities and jumped borders. In fact, fintech is a critical part of ongoing globalization; it is a product of a world economy that has become increasingly interconnected, yet at the same time it pushes this economy forward. Getting global right will be critical for its existence.
For more info on fintech localization considerations, grab our localization guide for fintech companies.