Like so many other things we do, technology has transformed the way we manage money. Financial technology (or fintech, as it’s better known) has dramatically reduced our need to walk into a brick-and-mortar building and talk to a human.
The adoption of fintech was already growing rapidly in the past few years, especially among younger and more tech-savvy consumers. The pandemic sped up this trend. We may be slowly returning to normal when it comes to things like shopping and dining, but fintech isn’t going away anytime soon.
A study by Ernst & Young, published in 2020 but based on data collected in 2019, showed a strong growth in fintech before the pandemic hit.
Once the pandemic drove massive lockdowns, and in-person banking became riskier, we started doing as much as we could on our electronic devices, including financial transactions.
Since physical proximity was no longer required to pay or get paid, it became more viable to move money anywhere it needed to go… including to people or businesses in other countries.
Fintech and Translation
In short, we’re moving towards a world where fintech is becoming increasingly common. What does this have to do with translation? The trend towards fintech also shows a need for reliable financial translation.
Fintech is growing globally
Like so many technological trends, fintech knows no boundaries. This may be one reason why the rate of fintech adoption has nearly doubled over the past few years across nearly every continent. The highest adoption rate is in China at 87%, followed by India and Russia. (In the U.S., the rate is 46%.)
Even more striking is the faster rate of adoption over a few short years. In 2015, the rate was 16% across six markets scattered throughout the world. By 2017, that rate was 31%. By 2019, it was 60%. That means the rate of adoption doubled every two years.
As consumer awareness of such platforms is near-complete, the growth is expected to continue.
Many of these fintech firms operate locally, but a handful deal with international transactions. Even if the fintech customer speaks English, the entities they exchange funds with, might not.
SMEs own a sweet spot
Much of the adoption of fintech lies in the SME space (small/medium enterprises). The range of functionality, ease of implementation and 24/7 availability make fintech an attractive option for businesses whose resources are relatively sparse compared to their larger counterparts.
Since many of these SMEs are tech-savvy and tech-reliant, there’s a natural relationship between them and fintech. SMEs are increasingly turning to fintech to manage banking and payments, financial management and even insurance.
What this means is a need for reliable fintech services in the language(s) in which SMEs do business. Whether they work with multilingual customers or do business in a primary language that’s different from their own, the platforms they choose will depend on the platform’s ability to allow them to make transactions and get support in the language(s) they speak.
Fintech adopters are more open with their data
Data – the magic word. The thing that helps companies distinguish genuine prospects from casual observers. Every business craves insightful data, but fintech companies may have the upper hand in acquiring it.
In E&Y’s survey, 46% of fintech adopters said they were willing to share their banking data with other providers if it meant they’d get a better offer. The willingness to share this kind of data means a fintech firm has more information regarding motivations, winning offers and other factors that impact whether a lead will turn into a customer.
What does this mean for translation? It means a better understanding of what works, possibly even what works in one region versus another. It’s not just about translating proposals – it’s about localising incentives that lead to increased adoption across all markets, even if the incentives vary from one market to the next.
Adopters are growing globally, but so are competitors
A listing from the Centre for Finance, Technology and Entrepreneurship shows that the U.S. leads in the number of fintech unicorns (e.g. startups), but other countries have the opportunity to catch up. Some countries, like runner-up China, are facing regulatory pushback against fintech, but other countries, like India, are adding new companies to their list.
The growth in other countries has the potential to increase competition across all countries. In order for U.S.-based fintech firms to leverage the growth in fintech adoption across the globe, they’ll need to create propositions that attract potential customers in non-U.S. markets… ideally, in the languages those potential customers speak.
Fintech is growing at a rapid pace, which means the future is bright for financial companies that move into the tech space. The future is even brighter for those that combine tech innovation with the translation strategies needed to gain acceptance – and customers – in growing markets.