Over-communication, regulatory collaboration and doubling down on benefits

A comms look at fintech in 2023

By Jack Cooper, Account Director, Brand2Life

Last month, at our annual Tech Trends event, we heard from The Times, Metro, Bloomberg, and the BBC on what will dominate the news and transform the tech industry in 2023. In case you missed it, virtual reality, the Metaverse, Big Tech and generative AI were all hot topics (read our recap blog here!), as was the future of fintech.

There’s no doubt that fintech has a big year ahead. Over the last decade, the industry has been at the heart of the UK’s plans to establish itself as a serious finance and tech hub. It has topped investment charts, attracted international talent, and experienced meteoric growth even when other sectors have levelled off. But much like other industries, it has recently felt the effects of global economic uncertainty and political instability.

Nevertheless, the future of the industry remains bright, and communications has a significant role to play in helping businesses to rebuild in 2023 and reconnect with their customer base.

A lesson from crypto on the art of over-communication

As Katie Prescott, Technology of Business editor at The Times, articulated at our 2023 Tech Trends event, it took an extended period of ‘Winter’ and the collapse of one of crypto’s major exchanges, FTX, for the sector to become known to the wider public. Katie pointed to the fact that it’s now become acceptable to question how companies operate, and state that you don’t understand the technology, without fear of rebuttal or conflict.

It’s this lack of transparency and willingness to educate and engage the general public that fintech needs to move away from in 2023. Its strategy should be to over-communicate as a means of being transparent. Communications can be a tool to reach a broad audience, not just immediate customers, and present an opportunity to explain  the rationale behind – and benefits of – lobbying decisions, consultation responses, product launches and exec hires. Fintechs don’t necessarily need to open the books to public consumption, but they should recognise the bridge between transparency and trust.

This does not have to sit with just earned media either. Yes, TV interviews or by-lined content can be an effective approach, but it’s not always the right one. Additional considerations could be public forums, like AMAs, or having subject matter experts talk with  users over social channels. Similarly, regular blog content on LinkedIn or over an owned channel provides more narrative control.

The time for asking permission, not forgiveness

Over-communicating, of course, lends itself to regulatory appeal too. In the past, fintech has been susceptible to pursuing growth at the expense of regulatory approval or compliance – all in the name of customer acquisition and rapid scale. But now is the time for taking a slow and steady approach, and company communications needs to reflect this. It shows maturity, growth, and commitment.

Fintech should seek to ramp up its policy communications to engage with regulators directly. This could be through a series of meetings with a relevant department, policy consultations and responses, government forums and roundtables, or in broader thought-leadership. Not only will this help to identify the roadblocks in the way of UK growth and innovation, but it will demonstrate a willingness to operate within the existing financial services system,  reassure customers of legitimacy and a determination to develop the UK financial services market.

Double down on product benefits

Looking beyond funding rounds and the lofty valuations of the previous years, a company’s value will almost always come back to what it’s actually offering – in many cases, this is the product. And in times of uncertainty, fintech needs to double down on that product’s benefits. This means clear communication about why the service exists, what challenges it’s solving and true to fintech’s nature – how it’s disrupting traditional services to give customers greater and better choices.

Fintechs can be creative with this form of communication too, using the variety of tactics that’s available to them. Beyond longer-form content, they should consider news hi-jacking to tie their product or service to the moment’s big issues; third-party research or reports to provide market validation; video animations to illustrate the challenge and solution, or a targeted social campaign to reach current or new buyers. Over-communication doesn’t have to be synonymous with email spam or content overload. Instead, it’s the art of owning and telling the narrative in different, engaging, and informative ways, connecting with a variety of audiences.

Regardless of the current state of the market, the future of fintech in the UK is very promising, and 2023 provides the opportunity for fintech to grow and, in some cases, rebuild trust with their stakeholders – whether that’s a venture capitalist or end user. The art of over-communication champions transparency while allowing businesses to demonstrate their maturity to regulators, and double down on how they can change customers lives for the better.