Local to Global: a Comprehensive Guide on Localization for Fintech Companies

The fintech industry’s transaction value for digital payments reached $5.2 trillion in 2020, which is a clear indication that the fintech industry is on the rise. Some fintech companies like eToro, Paypal, and Bluefin payment systems were once local companies. 

However, because they incorporated localization into their marketing strategy, they were able to go global. One way of ensuring that your localization marketing strategy becomes successful is by collaborating with localization services to assist you with localization market research, strategy building, and more. 

Local Fintech Companies that Went Global

Some would say that the demise of traditional banking is a good indicator, especially if we were to look back on how “a reckless laissez-faire attitude” and deregulation prompted the misselling of protection insurance and multiple scandals.

Regardless of whether you support traditional banks or not, you can’t deny that fintech companies have become a very appealing alternative due to their innovative and flexible propositions, a contrast to traditional banks’ rigid systems.  

For example, Uber Money provides their drivers with a free bank account and a debit card. They have special offers, like 6% cashback for gasoline. Uber Money saw the potential of the gig economy, which for several years has been underserved by conventional banks.

However, most of these fintech companies were local businesses before expanding into the global market. In this highly competitive economy, it’s either adapt or go extinct. If you’re wondering what your fintech company can do to adjust to this globalized economy, let’s examine three well-known fintech companies and their strategies for going global.

eToro (Tel Aviv, Israel) 

eToro was founded in 2007 with the goal and slogan to be “The World’s Leading Social Trading and Investing Platform” in providing a trading platform that’s accessible to the public. 

They promoted themselves locally through sponsoring local sports clubs and events in the UK, Australia, Germany, Denmark, and France. Twitter’s Marketing wrote a case study on how they effectively used their platform. Twitter noted that by making eToro’s “First View campaign” available in different languages, it became the top ad in Spain and France. It also increased their engagement by 9.6% on the first viewing and created a buzz for their pre-order opportunities.

Paypal (Palo Alto, US)

Paypal is one of the oldest fintech companies globally, which Confinity first launched in the 1990s. In the early 2000s, they garnered millions of users through their referral incentive that they eventually phased out. They currently provide to over 200 countries/regions in over 25 currencies.

When Paypal launched a “buy now, pay later” program, a point-of-sale loaning system provided no interest on purchases above $99 if customers paid back the balance within six months. It immediately caught the attention of younger generations, Gen Z and Millenials, who have been known to wait for discounts and bargain deals, and “hate paying for the full price.” 

Besides being conscious of the generational differences between older and younger consumers, Paypal has implemented localization in its marketing strategy. 

In an interview with McKinsey & Company, then Vice President of Paypal, Laurent le Moal, explained that before US-based companies would start expansion in Europe, they would start with the UK before going to Germany and so on. However, it’s not the case anymore, especially for Paypal who takes a “fresh look” at new consumers from foreign markets.

“Entering new markets like Russia, Turkey, and Africa requires us to think more about customer segmentation in ways that are more nuanced than we have in the past. The devices these consumers use, the type of goods or services they consume—everything is different, including the way marketing targets them,” Laurent le Moal said when asked about the consumer landscape and the role of e-commerce.

Localization Services’ Advice to Building an Effective Localization Plan

To start off with our discussion, let’s first define what localization is.

Localization is when your business connects with its local audiences worldwide by designing their platforms and marketing and operation strategies based on your target locale’s cultural and linguistic preferences. Many international companies use this method to effectively introduce their company’s brand to a foreign market and they work with a localization services provider.

We asked around major services in the industry for some advice on creating a plan for localization. 

One of them was William Mamane, the Chief Marketing Officer of Tomedes, a localization services company that has helped brands and companies localize businesses’ websites, apps, games, and content to reach their intended audience. When we asked what successful localizing looks like, Mamane explained that it all comes down to how well you know your audience. Having great products is just half the story for fintech companies. It’s crucial for companies to know things about their target audience. Companies that provide localization services have to be aware of cultural norms and customs when creating content. They should be more than language specialists and have to focus on other aspects that must be localized.

“Now more than ever, users are very particular with the content or product they consume. What works in the US market won’t work for the UK and Australian markets even though their countries are predominantly English speakers. There is no easy, one-size-fits-all in localization for marketing purposes because each culture has a different perspective on the human experience. So if you want to build a connection with your customers, you will need to conduct thorough research and preparations for your target location,” Mamane said. 

Michela Sammarone from Women in Localization, a professional organization for women and their allies in the industry, explains that the first step to localizing is understanding your business goals and aligning them to your strategy.

“If we know, for example, that the business is struggling with a specific region where content is already localized, and there is no plan to invest more in localization for that region, we might want to analyze the causes and come up with a plan to reduce costs or optimize effectiveness,” Sammarone said. 

As for Aran Bride, the Senior Director of International Data Group (IDG), an American media and research company, explains that localizing is necessary. When you’re building a plan to localize, finding professionals is essential to help you in your market research. 

“Find a partner that specializes in either native language expertise for market research to avoid stylistic embellishments and flourishes, which can obscure the intention of the questions,” Bride advised.

From the people we interviewed, we gathered some insights and advice, which we have listed below:

1.) Set a scope of limitation: budget, time & location

This is crucial as it will clarify your goals and objectives on your plans for entering a foreign market. Once you’ve decided on the location and how long you’ll be doing your marketing campaign, you can talk with your finance department regarding your budget for the localization you’ll be working with, the marketing campaign, etc. 

Creating a pre-strategy is essential as it allows you to create a more flexible plan regardless of your issues.

2.) Localized market research & feasibility studies

You could research your target audience’s local SEO to understand market demand, competitors, common queries, and how you can write an effective seo content.

Understanding SEO is a confusing process if you are new to the world of online marketing, however, it does not have to be this way when you look into some of the SEO tips from an SEO expert similar to Damon Burton right now.

You may also try to consider hiring a professional SEO agency for your local SEO strategy needs.

The localization company you’ve also hired can assist you in conducting surveys and connecting with native businesses. SEO Tools Centre has helped beginners learn more about SEO.

3.) Will you need to rebrand to localize?

Depending on the outcome of your research, you sometimes have to rebrand yourself. This could be because your brand’s name means something offensive in your target language, or your company’s slogan doesn’t translate well. My advice is to listen to your marketing team and create a new brand name that embodies your current one.

4.) Localizing services and products

For fintech companies, this can be tricky because finances are very personal and private. Localizing services and products to make them more understandable to the general public is vital to establishing trust with potential customers. You’re also minimizing lawsuits.

5.) Types of marketing funnel

You must consider the different avenues to promote your fintech brand, like social media platforms with the help of tools such as a social media automation software, websites, blogging, etc. Much of this depends on the research that you’ve conducted. For example, Hong Kong netizens primarily use Yahoo as their search engine. If they’re your target market, you will use this knowledge as to how to best optimize your website for Hong Kong netizens.

6.) Create a flexible content marketing plan

Creating content is absolutely necessary if you want to stay relevant. By collaborating with a localization company, you can create content that fits your target local preference. This involves the process of content extraction, localization, and quality assurance. Talk with them about the best course of action.

7.) Test and retest

Before launching, have a test group evaluate your content. It’s advised that you have to audit your localization after a certain period. Auditing involves the financial aspect, evaluation of the local KPIs, your competitor’s tactics, etc. Often, companies fail to conduct follow-ups on their local division or localized marketing team, leading to them falling behind competitors. So avoid growing complacent and constantly retest and update your strategy.