Localization in digital financial services: why it matters and how to get it right

Part 1: The global context


Digital financial services have been developing at unprecedented speed, not only because of the pandemic, but also because financial institutions and their clients discovered its transformative potential for inclusion and for easing customer journeys.

A big shift in mindset is happening. Instead of thinking of clients’ needs in terms of “They need a mortgage”, the new use case is: “They want to buy a house, and we can accompany them in their journey”.

Indeed, clients simply expect the financial services to improve their everyday lives.

But, how can the financial services improve their customer’s lives without an adequate support in their language?

There are best practices that you can adopt to localize your digital financial services with the help of competent services. Not all users speak English as their first language. But, I don’t just mean adapting your products to the mother tongue the customers speak, but to a jargon-free, accessible language.

In this series of 3 blog posts, I will explain why localization in digital financial services matters and how to do it. And just in case you haven’t heard the term before: localization means adapting products and content to your customers’ language and culture

Let’s start by looking at the challenges of the new global context and the new population of Fintech clients.

The Challenges

1. The global context

“2020 brought the future forward”, Finastra’s CTO, Eli Roser.

1. As we found ourselves stuck in lockdowns and curfews, the global pandemic has forced citizens and businesses to embrace digital financial services, laying the foundations for a new era in Fintech. Just a few notable examples from Sifted (Sifted Fintech Unwrapped Report) include:

  • Reluctance to use shared chip-and-pin terminals driving an increase in contactless payments;
  • Dramatic fall in the use of cash since the World Health Organisation (WHO) advised against using it in March 2020;
  • Stuck at home, more people are paying for goods and services online to be delivered directly, using online banking.

2.  There is an appetite for financial content and advice…

  • Open banking regulations stimulated the growth of start-ups helping users consolidate their financial lives. London-based PensionBee, for instance, transfers old pensions into a single online repository.
  • Wealth management and roboadvisory platforms such as Nutmeg provide detailed savings projections and guide consumers about how much they need to put away to meet specific goals

3. …and for financial inclusion.

Digital banking has transformative potential. It can bring banking services to millions who never had an account or those whose bank has closed its branches in the nearby town.

These challenges are global.

For example, in Latin America, there is a general lack of trust in local providers when it comes to financial services. According to Crisol Translations, LATAM and Caribbean financial markets are keen to see more international companies entering with cutting-edge technology. Fintech is regarded in Latin America as an instrument to improve financial inclusion. In Mexico, where more than 60% of the adult population does not have a bank account. A Fintech law was passed in March 2018 to address this issue.

Another example comes from India. Here, 300 million people hold a smartphone and most of them have internet in it (according to Statista data as of 2017). But they are unable to use the banking services because of the language barrier.

90% of Indians love to communicate in their mother tongue and are more comfortable in their regional language than English.

2. The Clients

Blend the Consumer Experience Across Multiple Channels

The new active population is made primarily of the Millennials and Gen-Z clients. They value independence, speed, and convenience. However, the importance of trust is not going away. The incumbent banks, who stand for stability and trustworthiness, have weathered the digital storm in spite of their clunky processes.

My ex-employer, Fiserv says:

“In 2021, Blending the Consumer Experience Across Multiple Channels will be the trend to watch for. That means, for example, understanding that consumers expect seamless transitions when they start an interaction on their phone at home and want to continue it when they get to the branch. It also means offering digital account opening, digital instant card issuance and all manner of commercial, small-business and consumer lending services that weave effortlessly between physical and digital.”

Tune in next month for Part 2, where I will be talking about:

the key reasons why localization matters in this new global context,


the best practices to localize your digital financial services.


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