Financial translation is perhaps the most important tool in the fintech industry’s arsenal when it comes to global success.
Fintech companies tend to think of themselves as disruptors. They almost always try to offer something different from the services of traditional banks and financial institutions.
But high-level success in fintech is almost always tied to having a global reach and international services.
If you are in the fintech industry and you are planning to take your products international, securing the most effective financial translation is a must if you want to trade successfully in the global marketplace.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to start doing exactly that:
Financial translation – ways you can fail
Back in 2015, global investments in fintech had already surpassed the £9 billion per year mark. Much of this investment is driven by the recognition of fintech’s ability to be a global player:
The services many fintech companies are applicable to – and highly desired by – audiences around the world. The global market for e-wallets alone is expected to more than quadruple from its current estimated value of £16 billion in the next five years.
In turn, this means that fintech companies which properly localise their products for different international audiences find they can achieve huge profits. Far more than they would be able to if they only offered their products in a single language.
Yet fintech companies which want to maximise their profits by going global do face serious challenges. Some of the most common ways financial services fail when they start to target any non-domestic audience include:
1) A failure to commit
Not every fintech company succeeds in going global. A failure to commit to a proper localisation strategy can lead to a swift downturn in public perception of a company.
One only need look at some of the English translations of the websites of fintech companies which don’t have English as a first language to see why this might be so. Consider how potentially damaging it can be to investor and consumer confidence to have poor quality translations as the face of your own brand.
The same is true of fintech companies which fail to truly commit to understanding the different regulatory frameworks and resources required to enter any given new market – or to work with a Language Service Provider, or another local partner, which does understand them.
2) A failure to communicate persuasively
Localising your communications strategy for other markets is about more than translating the actual words you use. What works as far as effective marketing and clear communications in your domestic market is very unlikely to have the same effect overseas.
You might rightly congratulate yourself on the clear, persuasive messages in your domestic marketing. You put the market research work in and the result is a high level of conversions. But direct translations of the words you used to woo your domestic audience will rarely work abroad.
Fintech companies which want to achieve the same results in foreign markets need to research their new target local cultures – or, again, work with a local partner which operates locally. Otherwise, you risk your marketing message and offering falling flat.
That isn’t to say that language concerns aren’t a factor too. For example, many overseas fintech companies trying to do business in China are surprised to learn that over 200 dialects and languages are spoken within its borders – rather than just the Mandarin they had imagined.
3) A failure to adjust the product
You might have put a great deal of effort designing your user interface to be as user-friendly as possible. But what counts as “user-friendly” differs dramatically depending on your target user’s cultural background.
Every aspect of your product and user experience – your UI, functionality, the images and colours you use – needs to be localised for your new audience. But it’s also a mistake to think that it’s only final-stage interactions like this that need to be considered when you’re adjusting your product for a new market.
In reality, you need to research whether there is sufficient potential local demand for your entire product. An obvious example would be if smartphone adoption in your target market was very low. This would severely limit the potential profit of many fintech products.
But examples on the ground tend to be far more nuanced. Perhaps the whole concept of payment for goods or services works differently on a local cultural level. Perhaps though, you could pivot your product so that you offer something more suited to local demands.
Once more, the key to knowing is to spend the time and resources on proper market research and developing your local cultural understanding.
4) A failure to consider market segmentation
Especially in regions like South-east Asia – the focus of many fintech companies seeking to translate their products for international audiences – markets are highly segmented.
In many Asian countries, younger generations tend to be very technologically aware. Adoption rates of new financial technologies are high. Amongst older people though, reliance on traditional banking models or being completely unbanked is common.
But these are sweeping generalisations, broadly but not universally true. As always, it’s vital not to paint with a broad brush where cultural understanding of the specific country, region and demographics you are targeting are concerned. Specific, reliable knowledge is your friend.
5) A failure to follow regulations
Financial services and technology are heavily regulated in almost every jurisdiction you care to name. If you want to succeed in new international markets, proper research into local regulations is a must.
For many companies used to operating in Europe, this is a big change to the normal state of play. As a European fintech firm, you might be used to standardised regulations or innovation hubs (and their equivalents), where fintech companies can be exempt from some regulations during development.
This is very much not the case in other parts of the world. Some regions are very welcoming to overseas financial services start-ups. Others are most certainly not.
Once more, having a local partner which understands and has experience with fintech localisation and regulations in your target regions will provide the insight and understanding you need to succeed.
Why high-quality fintech translation is critical
There might be a number of challenges involved in high-quality financial translation. But the opportunities which come from getting it right are massive too.
Asia and many other developing markets contain audiences which are ripe for the financial services which many fintech firms offer. For instance:
- More than 200 million people in South-east Asia do not have a traditional bank account
- China alone has a huge 69% fintech adoption rate, demonstrating that the services fintech can offer are highly desired here
But succeeding in these markets requires the careful localisation and translation of every part of your offering if you want to be a natural fit for an ideal client in any given market.
There are three major reasons – on top of the desire not to fail in any of the potentially spectacular ways listed above – which make professional fintech translation vital:
1) Being a “natural fit” for local consumers
Failing to adapt your product for your target market is an easy way to fail when taking your fintech products international.
At the other end of this spectrum is fully adapting your product so that it appears to have been specifically designed for someone from your target audience and culture.
An overwhelming percentage of users prefer – or are only willing – to interact with digital products and financial services (from online checkouts to e-wallets) which are in their native tongue.
If you go several steps further than just being in the right language – if you adapt your entire product for consumers from another culture – you’re entering the territory of maximum Return On Investment when it comes to fintech translation.
2) Beating your competition
Being a “natural fit” for each of your international target audiences will instantly set you apart from your competitors.
Many fintech firms resort to weak approaches like a generic “Spanish” language translation of their product. They somehow imagine that this makes it equally suitable for Spanish speakers in such linguistically and culturally diverse places as Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Cuba and Spain itself.
By offering a product which is uniquely adapted for the user needs and language preferences of each market, you don’t only dramatically increase the quality of your user experience.
You also make your brand the clear winner compared with other competitors who haven’t bothered to dedicate the same time and resources as you.
3) Establishing trust
As someone with experience in financial services, you understand how important it is to demonstrate why your users can trust you. When their money is at stake, consumers will only use a company they believe they can rely on.
Among the leading ways to do this internationally is to ensure that the localisation of your fintech products is both accurate and culturally aware.
This prevents the raising of any language red flags that may signal your company should be assigned a low trust level.
Tips for fintech translation
Fintech leverages cutting-edge software to make using financial services more convenient, faster, more accessible and more affordable for its clients.
But financial services translation needs to involve more than just technology if you want to achieve the high returns on your investment which internationalising your product can offer you:
1) Use a native linguist
Beyond all else when localising financial service products, you need to ensure that you – or your chosen translation company – are using native speakers of the specific regions you are targeting.
For example, at Asian Absolute, we only ever use native linguists. Because over two decades of experience has shown us it’s the only way to deliver high-quality translations which look natural to a native eye.
Only a native will be able to help you overcome cultural and language barriers as you adapt your product for a new audience.
2) Use a subject matter specialist
Using a native linguist is good practice. But you also need any language experts involved in your project to be specialists in financial services.
For instance, one of the most important things to get right with financial translations is foreign exchange rates and currencies. Understanding and describing concepts such as the management of currencies and payment methods requires specialist knowledge if they are going to be referred to correctly.
Asian Absolute’s solution is to only ever select linguists who have a minimum of five year’s experience in the financial sector, a Masters degree-level qualification or equivalent – or, often, both – to match with your project.
3) Check out your LSP’s security practices
Transmitting your ready-to-translate materials to your Language Service Provider is something you should treat with the same care for security as you would with any other mission-critical company data.
You will want your LSP to have clearly stated security practices for how they hold and transmit data. Asian Absolute, for example, uses advanced at-rest and in-transit security processes which are actually usually used in the international finance industry.
4) Plan to localise from the start
If it’s not already too late, it’s always best to build your products from the ground up with the aim of making them easy to localise later on. This process is usually referred to as internationalisation, or “i18n”.
Your internationalisation and localisation plan should include every aspect of your offering that consumers in your new target market will come into contact with. For example:
- Website – a properly localised version of your website is a must for each language and culture you are targeting. Each version should have an equal scope of functionality to your original website.
- Social media – the same is true of your social media profiles and presence. Even selecting the right social media platforms on which to have a presence is a major decision when entering new markets. This is especially important given the fact that the majority of fintech users are millennials or younger – a demographic which is also heavily represented on social media.
Being consistent in your plans and implementation across language versions and throughout your product’s life-cycle is actually a time and money-saver rather than an expense. So it’s in your company’s best interest to plan properly right from the start.
Paying equal attention to the translations you use in every channel through which consumers can come into contact with you will pay serious dividends when it comes raising trust levels and setting yourself apart from the competition.
5) Consider cross-cultural training
If you are considering entering a new market, it’s important not to forget to plan the quality of service support you are going to provide for new consumers. If hiring in the local area, you should also be sure that your Human Resources team can properly evaluate your potential new hires.
You should also take some steps to ensure those team members or local teams which speak different languages or hail from different cultures are made to feel properly part of your company. This involves everything from sharing the company culture to understanding how to interact with team members from other cultures in a professional, efficient and productive way.
It’s been proven that cross-cultural training and relationship building between regional teams makes financial as well as operational sense.
6) Using interpreters and spoken linguists
All the same rules for choosing written financial translators apply when selecting an interpreter. They should be a:
- Native speaker of your target culture
- Specialist in the financial services industry
- Backed by a Language Service Provider with experience in fintech
Whether you need a spoken language specialist for business meetings or hiring interviews, the ability to bridge cultural gaps regarding simple things like correct greetings, etiquette and more means the right financial services interpreter can be worth their weight in gold.
7) Consider using Machine Translation
Machine Translation, or MT, is not suitable for all fintech translation projects. Localising your UI, for instance, should never be handled by anything other than an expert human translator.
But there are certainly financial translation projects when a custom MT engine – we’re talking about a specifically designed piece of software which has been properly “trained” on clean bilingual data and post-edited by a human specialist, not Google Translate here – can be highly cost-effective.
A common example of this might be product reviews.
Financial translation services and the future
Fintech looks to be unstoppable. The advantages of being a fintech firm which can take it’s carefully-designed branding, consumer reputation and powerful product USPs with it as it expands internationally cannot be understated.
But taking your fintech products international needs to be done properly if you aren’t going to do damage to your company as a whole. Plus, it needs to be handled by a Language Service Provider which understands the need to use specialists who are intimately familiar with the terminology and practices of the financial services industry.
Because with the future of fintech likely to be as fast-evolving as it has been so far, with blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, AI, mobile banking and other innovations appearing with increasing frequency, you need the words you use and the way you operate to demonstrate your in-sector expertise and cultural understanding to anyone who sees them.
Do you have a fintech translation project on your hands?
Talk to an expert about it today. Asian Absolute uses subject matter specialists and native speakers in every financial services translation project.
Let’s see how we can work together to take your company global.