The FinTech sphere of business is currently on the rise, and many startups wish to achieve success and offer innovative solutions to completely transform the financial sector. This case study will focus on finding out what challenges a FinTech startup may currently face and outlining key strategic steps to overcome them. The case study will include many aspects of the business ranging from market opportunities to business models to get a full understanding of where the company is heading.
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The market opportunity for financial technology companies is currently vast and will continue to grow. The ‘FinTech revolution’ may subsequently result in the complete reshaping of the financial sector, contributing to the creation of a stable and diverse landscape (International Trade Administration 2016). However, there is a key market opportunity a company may put its focus to accomplish some goals.
Such a market opportunity is the consumer to business (C2B) payments, which constitute the biggest portion of the financial sector and has the quickest response for the current trends within the industry. C2B payments are also closely linked to social networking, which facilitates referrals to businesses and creates communities that enable the lowering of account value marketplaces and facilitating economic growth (International Trade Administration 2016).
Problem and Current Solutions
Market opportunities will always come with problems, with which the company should deal as soon as possible to reach the set goals. When analyzing the case of the FinTech startup, it was evident that the company struggles with challenges that may in the future disrupt or even ruin its operation. One of the key problems is changing consumer behavior. Growing the user base quickly at the same time with providing immaculate services is the main problem that should concern the business. While the developed tool is useful for potential customers and can bring a significant benefit, it is very hard for a startup to attract customers due to the lack of coverage or publicity. The solution for changing behavior and attracting more clients may include a range of activities. However, it is advised to try:
- direct response marketing;
- build relationships with businesses that offer complementary services;
- come up with a strong reason why clients should be using the service (Davis 2016).
The second problem identified is access to funding, which greatly limits the company’s capabilities. Startups struggle with financial problems regularly, and with a couple of employees and a co-working environment, not much can be done to extend the company’s reach. Therefore, the company must find new ways to fund the startup to focus on providing quality services to its customers. Solutions for this problem are vast and may include:
- finding a grant or participating in a contest;
- taking a loan;
- finding an angel investor (Hendricks 2013).
In either scenario, it is advised to build relationships and find connections with other businesses and investors that can help the startup on its way up.
Solution: Product or Service
The key solution to the identified problems is building trust with new customers that may not want to use the offered solution because they are not sure of its reliability and security. It is advised for the FinTech company to develop an ‘introductory’ service that will be offered to clients for free in the form of a trial. With this solution, customers won’t be afraid of losing their money because they will not pay anything and will have an opportunity to test the offered tool and see how easy it is.
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Such a method of building relationships with new customers is widely used by a variety of businesses and should not be overlooked in this case either. Encouraging online reviews, introducing loyalty programs, and establishing a great customer service team will create strong relationships with potential customers who will recommend the company to their friends and colleagues. According to the Forbes article by Aj Agrawal (2016), 83% of customers are much more likely to recommend a company they trusted others (para. 1). Referrals and recommendations may bring a significant benefit to the company, so it is crucial to emphasize trust and showing others that the developed tool is very useful.
Understanding the structure of the company through a business model canvas will allow the startup to think through its competitors, the makeup of the company, strategy, and other key aspects of the business (Osterwalder & Pigneur 2009). Below is the business model canvas of the startup that will give important information about how the company is currently functioning:
Market Approach Strategy
As mentioned by Eric Ries (2011) in his book The Lean Startup, to be in a startup means developing a product or a service under pressure and extreme uncertainty. Growing a business with accompanying uncertainty requires skills and motivation despite many challenges. The greatest advice one may give to a FinTech startup is not shying away from social media, as the majority of banks do. It is important to understand that social media marketing is not only about attracting a young audience. Research has shown that people of all ages and genders are beginning to spend more time on their computers behind a television. It has also been reported that the way banks and other financial consultants use social media was unhelpful and even boring.
Therefore, great strategies don’t guarantee great execution (Harvard Business School Press 1999). The startup may benefit from hiring a marketing professional who will focus on expanding the company’s presence online, consult customers, answer questions, and find connections with other companies that provide complementary services for cooperation.
Team and Key Stakeholders
Creating a team that will take the startup to the topic is one of the most challenging tasks. Furthermore, apart from creating a team, managers or owners may look into engaging partners, advisors, or even investors into corporate life. When the startup decides to expand the team, it is important to recruit stakeholders from the outside of the Information technology sphere to broaden the sphere of expertise within the company. While the IT personnel will specifically work on software and tool development, the non-it staff will focus on the financial aspect of the job as well as on promotion and marketing.
It is also important to have at least one mid-level manager with a strong reputation of being able to communicate with investors and core players. The ability to assertively communicate and resolve issues with the higher-ranked stakeholders will present the startup with an opportunity to build stronger relationships at the same time with staying on top of its game.
Return on investment (ROI) in a FinTech company depends on a variety of factors that may either benefit or challenge the business. The rapid changes associated with the technological sector do not allow businesses to adapt before the next changes occur. The sphere of financial technology is currently in demand; therefore, to have a high return on investment, it is crucial to develop an ability to quickly adapt and offer customers innovative FinTech solutions.
As to the revenue stream from existing customers, it is currently low because even new clients are reluctant to use an unknown service. Therefore, it is important to stay in touch and offer complementary services to increase the revenue stream. It is hard to determine the valuation of the startup since for now little is known about any intangible assets the company owns.
The analysis of the competition in the financial sector has shown that even though there are many different firms within the sphere, there is an oligopoly that prevents new businesses from entering the market. A few of the largest corporations possess the majority of the market’s share and are opposed to any competition. Although it is widely believed that FinTech has the potential to change the financial sphere, there are still specific behaviors and conditions that limit the entrance to the market. Apart from the severe competition, startups face a great challenge due to the quick technological change, which has a significant effect on innovation and competition in the financial sphere.
Competition with traditional banks is another issue of concern for a FinTech startup. Banks see a significant threat in the prospect of FinTech companies completely changing the financial sphere by capturing more clients that want to have better control over their savings. On the other hand, cooperation with banks is also possible since FinTech startups may help banks in significantly reducing their operational costs that go, for example, towards digitalization or full-time staff spending.
The basic use of funds associated with the financial technology startup encompasses a range of payments a company has to make to grow. Investing in human resources and hiring experienced and hard-working personnel is highly important; equally as important as motivating employees to retain and meet the set goals. Technology-associated spending is another aspect of investment that can never be overlooked in a financial technology company.
The development of new tools and applications requires the latest software so that the provided services are compatible with devices currently used by customers. Moreover, with the fast pace of changing technologies, a FinTech company is forced to update its hardware and software regularly.
Major costs will go towards marketing since the main issue of gaining trust from customers remains. Current prices on marketing, even on the Internet, may put a dent in the company’s budget, especially when it comes to startups. It is important to divide marketing costs into separate categories after answering the following questions:
- What the company needs?
- For what are we currently paying?
- How fast can we afford to expand?
- How can we minimize our risks?
Having a set budget for marketing is one of the most important decisions a company can make in the primary stages of its development since it adds clarity to the process of future decision-making. With a clear idea of how much a company can spend on expanding its reach regarding advertisement and attracting customers, a startup will have a better understanding of how much can be spent on other costs.
The proposed strategy targeted at solving the existing issues in a FinTech company should encompass two key activities: gaining trust from customers and establishing connections with companies that will provide a positive input into the startup’s development. While it has already been discussed how the company could gain more trust and market its services, it is advised to pay closer attention to how other companies promote their businesses.
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One of such innovative methods is podcast advertisement. The newly-introduced ‘world of podcasting’ offers companies a possibility to reach a broad audience, which trusts the opinion of entertainers they regularly listen to. There are currently many platforms that work with retailers and service providers to broadcast ads in podcasts. Such a method of marketing will benefit the startup; so cooperating with independent entertainers that need financial support from ad revenue should be regarded as one of the key strategic decisions.
Finding support in other companies that provide complementary services and creating strong professional bonds is another strategic decision a company should make. While it won’t be effective to cooperate with competitors, partnering with service providers or retailers that will expand the reach of FinTech applications the startup offers may span a great response from existing and new customers.
The case study report included an extensive analysis of the FinTech startup’s business model and outlined key activities and strategies the company can implement to grow and achieve the set goals. The focus of the strategy was put on gaining trust from customers by offering free trials and complimentary services, encouraging feedback, and cooperating with other entrepreneurs that already have a wide reach for spreading the word about the company.
Agrawal, A 2016, 5 ways to build customer trust. Web.
Davis, J 2016, 7 excellent ways to attract new customers. Web.
Harvard Business School Press 1999, Harvard business review on entrepreneurship, Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MA.
Hendricks, D 2013, 4 great tips for finding funding for your startup. Web.
International trade Administration 2016, Top markets report financial technology. Web.
Osterwalder, A & Pigneur, Y 2009, Business model generation, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, NJ.
Ries, E 2011, The lean startup: how today’s entrepreneurs use continuous innovation to create radically successful businesses, Crown Business, New York, NY.