Partnering with a corporate can be a fast-track to success for FinTechs but is not without its challenges.

The road to internationalisation

22 December 2021

6 minute read

Founders share advice on how to effectively internationalise your business.

The Main Problem
When is the right time to expand internationally – and how can you do so most effectively? Those were the questions put to Payson Johnston, Founder and CEO of Crowdz, and Mo Bammeke, Global Chief Compliance Officer of Flutterwave, during a recent Founders Coffee Club podcast. Both businesses operate in multiple global markets and have a network of international employees and clients. 

First steps of Internationalisation

  • Try and build multiple markets into your model from the outset.
  • Be aware of the fast pace of global FinTech expansion and don’t get left behind by the competition.
  • Work with partners and key customers to understand and penetrate new markets.
  • Listen to customers to identify where global opportunities lie and be prepared to reposition or adapt your product according to local needs.
  • Investors can be important in identifying which countries or regions to focus on.
  • Consider the potential for growth and remember there may be a need for your product without there yet being a demand for it.
  • Local knowledge is vital so look for introductions and experience right across your network.
  • Speak to financial regulators and lawyers early on to understand country-by-country requirements
  • It is normally better to have a pod of several people setting up operations in a new country. A sole team member can feel isolated.
  • Playbooks can only work to a degree. Each country will have unique requirements.
  • Look for similarities in regulatory or legal environments between countries, for example across the EU or nations that are (or were) part of the Commonwealth.  
  • Working with an established partner that has local name recognition is an effective way to quickly establish credibility.

Expanding to the USA 
The USA is a huge potential market for FinTechs and tops the wish list for many founders looking to expand internationally. Andrew Lorentz and Chris Ford are Partners in the Washington DC office of legal firm, Davis Wright Tremaine. They have expertise in banking, financial services and often advise businesses looking to enter the US market. Speaking at a virtual Rise India event in late 2021, they explained the sometimes-complex US financial regulatory environment as it applies to FinTechs. 

Hot Internationalisation FinTech Sectors

  • Buy Now - Pay Later solutions.
  • ‘Super Apps’ that provide an all-in-one financial interface for consumer.
  • Banking as a Service with niche and neo-(challenger) bank offerings to provide innovative deposit and credit products, often including network branded card issuance.
  • Products and programs powered by data aggregation and the increasing role of consumer-permissioned access.
  • Earned Wage Access that allows employees to access their wages as they earn them, rather than wait for a monthly payday.
  • Emergency Savings solutions, including those offered by employers.
  • Working capital solutions for small business, including factoring and merchant cash advance.
  • Mortgage solutions such as remote online notarization (RON), eNotes (electronic equivalents to negotiable promissory notes) and e-recording in land records.
  • Remittances, including crypto-related solutions.
  • ‘Stablecoin’ cryptocurrencies that are designed to have a relatively stable price, and other on/off ramps to further digital assets.
  • Banks as Custodians, for example through digital asset safekeeping.
  • ‘Credit builder’ and deposit products for the unbanked, underbanked and anti-banked, with or without alternative underwriting.

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