Fintechs growing wrong way

Fintechs are the fastest-growing companies in the whole market today.

Fintechs are also very successful at developing new features. Want to pay your friends for the dinner quickly? It’s over! Do you want to donate your ‘round up’ to a good cause? It’s that easy! Do you want to try your hand at the stock market by purchasing fractional stock? So there you have it.

The speeding way
The fintech community is currently focused on getting features to market quickly. It’s also why, rather than any other industry, fintech feels like a sprint.
For early adopters, this fascination with speed is awesome. They like trying new stuff, and when it comes to their wallet, they want more features, new experiences, and new cards.

The challenge with this model comes when fintechs acquire early adopters who are just interested in trying out the new product on the market, no matter what it is. Hype and funky features will attract this lucrative user — but when the next ‘cool new product’ arrives with an exclusive beta programme, they’ll move on quickly.

What fintechs are faced with then is probably the following:

  • An organisation that knows how to ship features fast but doesn’t really think about who it’s shipping them to
  • A churn rate that is increasing as early adopters explore other new options
  • A product which is not yet ready for the masses so isn’t being adopted fast enough to make up for the fleeing early adopters
  • Noise dying down as their relevance tempers because they are trying to win new customers with the old pitch
  • Higher costs to acquire new customers and increasing costs associated with low-revenue users
  • This is why I believe fintech isn’t doing growth right. Getting growth isn’t a growth strategy.

Getting growth by taking products to market fast isn’t a bad thing but assuming that they will sustain your company forever is naive.

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How to grow — and keep growing

To sustain the growth of a successful fintech startup you need to very quickly define your growth strategy. Decide who the user is that you want to win, then create advocates of your product who will drive growth and adoption at low acquisition costs. This is the only way to grow at scale and at a level of profitability that meets the high expectations of today’s market.

You need to build your product with that user in mind, build your subscription model or your pricing model with that user in mind, and build your brand with that user in mind.

You also need to focus on growth metrics beyond just ‘number of users’, like:

X% of users in a subscription after 12 months
X% of users upgrading in the first 6 months
X% of new users acquired via referrals
X % of existing users increasing weekly spend by 100% year-on-year (share of wallet)

Revolut does everything to win this person, from the features it builds to its brand’s tone of voice. Crucially, this also underpins its expansion plans — after all there’s only so many of these people in every country.

Fintech should be aggressive about attracting this specific user that it can be polarising to others. But that doesn’t matter, because successful fintech knows:

  • Who it wants
  • How many of them there are
  • How to win them

JCash co-founder, fintech/blockchain expert. Interested in innovations in digital payments and AI technologies.