These are the 7 fintech firms that nailed their marketing campaigns

I have tried to compile a list of my favourite marketing campaigns run by fintech startups. It ranges from product launches to physical and online campaigns. Here goes!

The “Pop-Up Store” Campaign: iZettle

Image source: Flavourmag

“Launch a pop-up store for small businesses” as a campaign idea rarely comes up in marketing meetings (okay, never), but that is what payments firm iZettle decided to do. iZettle set up a pop-up store in central London which was used for trading by a different business every day for 6 days, but always using the mPoS technology from iZettle. The campaign helped establish the firm as a credible alternative to traditional PoS players by reaching the mass market quickly and creatively. It achieved all this while also creating a unique image as a supporter of the local community and small businesses.

The “Tube” Campaign: Nutmeg

 Image source: Twitter

London tube carriages are now the current favourite outdoor advertising venue for UK-based robo-advisory and wealth management firms. It all started with Nutmeg. Their advertising on the underground trains and stations during ISA season was perhaps the most memorable physical campaign by a FinTech firm ever. Legions took to Twitter with tube shots praising the brand. London does not have an underground mobile network, and an average commute is over an hour on the Tube. The campaign gave commuters sufficient time to think about personal finances and what is not working with the traditional modes of investing.

The “Cash Register” Product Packaging: Square

Image source: Wired

Marketing a new technology is very hard – how do you make the public aware of subtle technological differences with competitors who have been established in the market for decades? The best way, as Square proved, is by creating a killer showcase product that demonstrates how well it all works. And how much simpler life can be without the “competition”. When Square launched a new type of cash register, businesses around the world took notice. It proved that all you need is an iPad to get rid of the clunky, expensive machines running credit cards in your neighbourhood coffee shop.

“The Ice Block” Marketing Stunt: WePay

Image source: unibulmerchantservices blog

This one was a while ago, but remains one of the most memorable marketing stunts ever by a FinTech firm. WePay dropped a massive ice block with frozen money where a Paypal conference was taking place in San Francisco, blaming the competitor for freezing the customers’ accounts. The stunt was soon on the front page of tech magazines. WePay had a very clear marketing message established prior to the stunt – including a landing page It shows it is not all about the stunt; but also about how you align any attempted stunt with your core messaging and marketing activities.

The “Sports Sponsorship” Campaign: BitPay

Image source: Twtrland

BitPay, a bitcoin-processing startup, decided to sponsor a real college football game aiming to introduce sports fantatics to the world of Bitcoins. The sponsorship is now over, but the success of the #bitcoinbowl hashtag is still talked about in social media. The hashtag was trending for a long time, and is still being used to make Bitcoin jokes. It may have been a short-lived partnership between college athletics and virtual currency, but it is one more example of how FinTech firms continue to think beyond the obvious.

NB: BitPay now sponsors a NASCAR racing team.

The “Help Your Customer Grow” Strategy: Kabbage

Image source: DirectCapital blog

One strategy to help grow your own market is by helping your target customer base grow real quick! Kabbage, a small business lending firm, tries to make its customers’ lives easier by giving them a voice (through a dedicated Small Business Blog) and by giving them advice on how to grow in a tough market. It also launched a separate programme, Karrot, to lend to startups and individuals who may not yet be a small business, but are growing into one.

The “funny TV” Campaign: TransferWise

Image source: YouTube

FinTech can do funny. The ad from Transferwise is an example of FinTech firms going the traditional TV commercial route, but with a very uniquely funny voice. A cross between a spoof and a conventional commercial, the TV campaign hits out directly at the competition: the bankers (yes, the whole lot of them). There was never-before-seen debauchery on screen, but all for the larger good (destroying the banking industry). The commercial was not just cheered on by disruption proponents, but also by the masses of consumers unhappy with their banks.


Please feel free to share any other amazing campaigns!

Why Turkey is still the digital banking capital of the world

While 29 banks are in the race to get their licenses in the UK, including a sizable number of digital banks, Turkey – the social-media-based banking innovation hotbed of Europe – didn’t launch a single new bank in the past few years.

Until earlier this month, that is, when BNP Paribas’ TEB launched its digital bank, CEPTETEB. In fact, the digitally obsessed Turkish millennials ensure that #cepteteb is a trending topic on Twitter (which is refreshing to see for someone in the UK, where bank Twitter handles are only used for complaining).

Yet, why hasn’t there been a digital bank in Turkey sooner? The answer is quite simple: the so-called ‘traditional’ Turkish banks have been so innovative and customer-experience-friendly that they have been faring much better than the newly launched digital banks in other countries. The UK is notorious for its gaps in customer-centricity in banking offerings. In the US, only 23% of customers are happy with their banks.

The ‘traditional’ bank Garanti, with its 12 million customers and 950 branches, launched special products targeting millennials, and ran education campaigns to get them started on current and savings accounts over a year ago. It integrated wallet, savings, loans and offers into a single access point, the iGaranti mobile app. The app even had a ‘conversation’ feature that enabled users to ask questions about their bank accounts.

10 years before banks started fintech incubation and accelerator programs, Akbank, a $12bn local bank, launched an entrepreneurship program to encourage technology adoption related to banking. Turkey’s largest bank, IS Bank, lets customers withdraw cash without cards using QR codes on phones.

The banks in Turkey have tried to make even the worst aspect of customer experience an experiment in digitalization. DenizBank started using iBeacon technology to provide a queue number as customers walked into the branch. One of the most hated banking procedures is loan application, so Akbank made this a tad more exciting by providing ‘credit kiosks’ that handle the loan process, right down to ID scanning and loan agreement printing.

This wasn’t restricted to just the private banks. Ziraat Bank, the state-owned bank of Turkey, launched unstaffed video kiosks to replace teller counters, handling money, forex, bonds and bills (branch elimination at its finest!), proving that the market and the banks (as well as the customers) were ready to embrace digitalization in a big way in Turkey as far back as 2011.

Turkey vs experience and capital

The CEPTETEB launch has come at an appropriate time, with the Turkish banking market seeing some unprecedented movements in the past month. BBVA has just become the leading shareholder in Garanti Bank, Turkey’s third largest bank. HSBC is currently in talks to sell its Turkish arm to ING Turkey. BBVA and BNP Paribas investing in the country is an interesting sign, as both have been the largest investors in fintech. BNP Paribas has already launched three digital banks worldwide (including Hello Bank in the UK), and BBVA has announced a venture capital fund to continue its ‘fintech spending spree’. It’s an interesting equation now, with Turkey’s own digital programs versus the larger banks’ experience and investments from outside Turkey.

An example would be the recent agreements BNP Paribas has signed with Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter. These will definitely improve the way BNP Paribas TEB integrates digital media into its offerings. On the other hand, Garanti Bank has offered a Facebook-integrated mobile banking app, and Deniz Bank has been accepting loan applications via Twitter for about three years.

The next step in the digital media war would be for both sets of banks to improve the scale of their offerings, ensuring it reaches the under-30 market of Turkey, which is over 50% of the total population today.

Turkey is proof that the size of firms isn’t a barrier to innovation. It’s where traditional banks have learned to innovate, and at a faster pace and with less investment than most of its peers. It will work well for the new digital banks to give it the attention it deserves, and of course, learn from it!