Rahul Sachitanand
Nov 4, 2021

Can agencies keep pace with fintech upstarts?

Flush with funding, companies in the fintech space are more experimental, and shops need to be more agile to keep pace, says Thunes CMO Irina Chuchkina.

Can agencies keep pace with fintech upstarts?

With nearly $100 billion raised in funding in the first half of this year alone, according to one estimate from management consultancy KPMG, fintech companies are in a tearing hurry to conquer the world. However, their ambitious plans may be slowed by the inability of legacy agencies to keep pace, a senior marketer in the field has told Campaign Asia-Pacific.

Flush with funds, fintech ventures are racing ahead with their marketing plans, and rather than sticking to one set strategy, they are willing and well-financed to iterate on different ideas. But traditional networks and agencies may struggle to keep up, said Irina Chuchkina, global CMO of Thunes, a fintech company that has built a global payment network spanning 110 markets. “In my previous roles [including Visa, Grab and Rapyd] for instance, as a marketer what you typically saw was people and teams pushing a project to launch and then after it is launched, nobody does anything to adjust it." 

Fintechs are flush with funding

Instead, she contends that marketers in this space, and the agencies they sign up, need to be nimbler and more collaborative. "This is not how it should be working. What you should be doing is something like every other day, you would be looking at the campaign and you know the reaction and the engagement and possibly reshuffling things. That's a much more agile way to operate the marketing project management or the campaign management."

Agencies, then, may need to do more to keep pace with these demands for agility and verve, she contends. Agencies must be able to "connect the different dots" in fintech marketing, she adds. Agencies need to be able to, on one hand, rapidly offer integrated solutions to nippy fintech companies, but also be able to more rapidly ideate, experiment and implement (or reject) marketing ideas.

As a marketer, she is keen to see more agencies build marketing content for rapidly growing fintech companies "when the different pieces are supporting each other and working in coherence and in almost like an orchestrated manner. That is what the industry is looking for. In reality, she adds, this should translate rapidly into a PR story you turn it into a piece of content and then you bring it into your social feed and back it up with email and customer communication and perhaps different graphic ways to tell these stories. 

To do this, the challenge for agencies is not just the rapid growth of fintech companies, but also the complexity of the sector. "They probably don’t understand the complexity of fintech," she contends. "Fintech itself consists of last time I counted, 26 different sub-verticals within fintech and every single one would be different."

To keep pace with this, she thinks marketers like herself, and agencies will need to hire more people with T-shaped skills (master in one field but able to work competently across the board) to keep pace with this fluid market. "We don’t have the ability to create an ecosystem of 20 different agencies for every single item," she explains of her role at Thunes. "We definitely are much leaner, and we’d have to rely on fewer resources they can do more things. Resourcefulness is probably the requirement that most fintechs should have."

As agencies race to keep pace with the combination of agility and integration demanded by fintechs such as Thunes, they would also need to keep an eye out on shifting briefs from these companies. Chuchkina for one thinks that in the B2B space, for one, the days of dense B2B communication are dated. 

"The best approach and the best thing that I am trying to apply is treating B2B audience as simple people human beings that are very visual in nature," she says. "The fact that we are a B2B company doesn’t have to imply, it doesn’t have to mean that we need to use very complex language." What she is trying to build is to simplify the meaning or bring up the meaning of a specific products. 

On the ground, Chuchkina came aboard just after a global brand recast which she says is "is exceptionally well executed" and she just wants "to make sure that we keep that the quality of the execution and make sure that we do those visual components. We built them in the most impactful way."

Thunes launched a new brand presence earlier this year

As she drills down, she is also keen to make changes. "I think what I am trying to look for is that we have the right combination of the marketing technology that actually supports and helps us to execute and to scale communications and to really have the visibility of how we perform in the external space as well as in our existing customer database and we have the right tech stack in place," she adds. 

While she keeps her foot pressed down on the usual marketing levers (various forms of events, PR, martech), the method of marketing at Thunes is changing. "Digital technology gives us amazing opportunities to engage with people, ... be able to understand them better. We see more patterns and connect more dots and track people in some cases, find them in different locations," Chuchkina adds. "Learning from again like the Spotifys and Netflexes of the world... and try to apply the same to B2B (marketing)." 

Overall, Chuchkina says her marketing at Thunes is based on three pillars. One is to create trust in the brand the firm creates. The second things is about education and what brand Thunes can do and the third thing is basically trying to create a little bit of inspiration and the inspiration comes with a question what if. "What if ... you partner with the designer and actually through the power of technology platforms like Thunes, build the next Revolut or the next Grab."

Campaign Asia

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