Telum Talks To... Sam Coyne, Head of Marketing, Currenxie
Telum caught up with Sam Coyne, who joined Currenxie, one of the many up-and-coming FinTech platforms in Hong Kong, as Head of Marketing last year. He shares how established companies have been responding to the rise of FinTech, the importance of simplicity and consistency when doing marketing as well as skills that young practitioners should know about in order to succeed in these firms.
Quite a few FinTech companies, including Currenxie, have used Hong Kong as a launch pad to scale up across Asia. What makes Hong Kong unique and a good home base?
Hong Kong has long been a gateway city for both capital and goods. It is exceptionally well connected to the Greater Asia region, making it a convenient home base. With any company, you want to remove as many obstacles to growth as possible. For a FinTech company, choosing an established global financial centre ensures you have the infrastructure, talent and credibility to launch and scale any conceivable financial service.
Borderless payment platforms and online lenders are perceived and used differently across the world. How do your marketing and communications strategies differ across APAC and the world?
There are differences in expectations and priorities. In the UK, which has a very mature FinTech market, there has been some resistance - particularly in B2B - against purely app-based and AI-driven customer service. You can get away with this approach for consumer financial products, but many businesses are not comfortable with entrusting their finances to services where they cannot talk to someone on the phone.
In the APAC market, there is typically more focus on the direct cost of the core service over customer support or value-added services and features.
These are generalisations, of course, and what applies in B2C payments doesn’t necessarily apply in B2B - which tends to be slightly more homogeneous owing to many companies operating internationally.
The eCommerce and mCommerce industries have been two of the major beneficiaries of global lockdown orders. How should brands adapt their comms strategies to take advantage of the growing web presence?
Currenxie was already a fully digital company with many clients in eCommerce, so fortunately there has been no operational adaptation needed.
Unless your brand is not already web-focused - in which case you are going to want to accelerate that transition - there shouldn't be much change in strategy needed. Build useful content and make it accessible wherever your audience’s attention is. Specific tactics will change though as you can’t ignore the realities of a changing world. You have to incorporate those realities into your messaging and demonstrate that you are aligned with your audience. Remember to sympathise, not empathise. Nobody likes a brand pretending to be something it's not.
Are you seeing any noticeable trends emerging from Greater China or Asia that are shaping how traditional institutions or established MNCs approach FinTech?
The rise of super-apps such as WeChat, AliPay and Paytm. These apps act as attention aggregators, serving up useful features (chat, retail, payments etc.) via a single interface. These apps have different "cores", but payments have become part of the fabric. Rather than payments being something that is initiated as a discrete function, it's become an integrated process in using a certain feature, like booking a ticket or paying a friend back for dinner. They remove all of the frictions because identity, authentication and payments are all part of the ecosystem.
Learning from this, Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google are all making moves to provide users with features such as loans, credit cards and current accounts, taking advantage of the fact that they are gravitational cores for attention and aggregators of other services. Many traditional banks are cosying up to these tech giants to provide the underlying functionality, such as Goldman Sachs and the Apple Card, or Goldman’s Marcus and Amazon loans.
What are some branding and marketing challenges companies in the FinTech industry face?
FinTech is dominated by new companies, most of which have existed for less than a decade. Any time when you have hundreds of new brands in a single industry trying to establish themselves, it’s going to dilute the message somewhat. You have to be patient and very consistent. With attention spread thinly across so many new brands, it will take longer than usual to establish yourselves in the minds of your audience.
Marketing has the normal challenges of building awareness and preference, but also of education. Things are moving so fast and concepts are brand new. You need to simplify your messages but not to the point that you ignore the need to educate the market.
In order to succeed in fast-growing FinTech or financial firms, what skills do young PR / marketing practitioners need that they might not be aware of or might surprise them?
Develop empathy with your customers. If you’re in FinTech, odds are you’re communicating a relatively new concept to your audience. To achieve anything, you will need a platform of mutual understanding that requires that you and your audience all speak the same language. I spend a little time every day reading our sales and support enquiries. Let that feedback loop inform your communication strategies.