Fintech’s Golden Age
Money makes the world go around. The financial world is scrambling to keep up with the array of disruptive apps and new technologies that have exploded onto the market in the past decade. Fintech companies the world over are changing the ways we interact with our finances, be it how we spend, invest or save. The ways in which fintech businesses are communicating with customers is also shifting, making way for a human-centred, informal approach to tone of voice and UI/UX design. In this article, we’ll explore the ways these disruptive companies are changing the game, and how brand is playing a key role in market differentiation and competitive advantage.
The Emergence of Fintech
‘Fintech’ has been bubbling away for over fifty years, giving us such things as credit cards, ATM’s and electronic stock trading, with the latter being given an even greater boost in the 1990’s by the arrival of the internet. The aforementioned developments acted as enhancements and add-ons to the banking industry. However, modern fintech has, in the last decade, shifted to mobile wallets and money-management apps and technology such as blockchain, which look to overhaul and, in some cases, completely replace traditional banks and financial institutions. This drive to not only build on but redesign finance has changed the way we invest and manage our finances, with the boom in innovation enabling companies such as Monzo and Starling to completely take over the payment market. In countries where banks have traditionally not been available, such as Kenya, apps like M-Pesa have enabled those with no access to a bank account to store their money securely and thus encourage saving and investment opportunities in the poorest parts of the world.
The business models put forth by fintech start-ups of the last decade are a stark show of the different areas of focus compared to traditional banks. The 2008 financial crash dealt a massive blow to the big banks of the world, forcing them to admit huge regulatory and moral failings and some to collapse entirely. When the trust failed, consumers looked for something new; a more relevant and streamlined way of managing their financial lives.
This shift caused a vacuum into which many of the emerging apps and technologies jumped into – providing customers with a new, integrated solution that traditional banks simply did not and could not offer.
A Shift of Focus
Fintech start-ups have capitalised on this trust vacuum, ensuring a brand-led approach when launching into the market. Their brand strategies are carefully constructed and allow them to make sure each touch-point evokes a sense of quality and security, while feeling relevant and modern. A common issue we see in the tech business world, is a reliance on the technology itself to provide market differentiation. These businesses often believe the tech alone will sell and differentiate their product but without brand it’s impossible to emotionally connect with consumers. And it’s the emotional, rather than rational, decision-making process that will help your product sell over another similar one. Where big banks have failed on aspects of brand such as tone of voice and UX/UI design, start-ups have flourished, translating data, numbers and stats into easily consumable interactions via mobile apps and websites.
Getting the Tone Right
Tone of voice plays a key role in changing consumer attitudes toward money and is essential when integrating with modern life – being able to communicate consistently allows businesses to retain and build trust with their customers. The copy used throughout current successful fintech apps and websites, whether it be on homepages or in the terms and conditions, is playful and informal, talking to consumers in a way that is non-judgemental, empathetic and constructive. The pages and pages of jargon used by big banks confuses and worries customers and is time-consuming trying to understand and pick out essential parts.
The only threat now is being lost in a sea of similar sounding start-ups, so it is important that these companies take into account how others are speaking and continue to adapt their voice to be relevant and notably different.
The Power of UX & UI
UX and UI design has also played a key role in the success of fintech apps and websites, allowing for seamless and thoughtful integration with daily lives. Hierarchy of information is a key part of UI design fintech businesses, with navigation, functionality, data access and manipulation, communication and reporting all playing important roles in the way consumers interact with the technology. The introduction of features such as Monzo’s ‘saving pots’, which round up each payment made on an individual’s card and deposit the difference into a separate account, is an easy way of saving small amounts of money. Features like this seamlessly tap into the needs of consumers, making them invaluable.
We’re experiencing an exciting time in fintech innovation, which could see a dramatic shift in the way we interact with our money. Modern fintech start-ups for the most part seem to recognise and understand the necessity of appealing to the emotional needs of consumers. Although not all are able to invest heavily in brand until receiving a serious injection of cash, brand strategy and positioning work should be tackled as quickly as possible to gain initial traction and engagement. And for the traditional banks, the emphasis must be on rapid digitisation and increased social awareness in order to integrate with modern consumer life.