Strategies for International Success in Fintech

Highlights from Forbes Cyprus the Future of Fintech Summit: “Expanding Horizons: Strategies for International Success in Fintech” panel

Navigating the Future of Fintech: Insights on International Expansion, AI, and Leadership

In a dynamic and ever-evolving fintech landscape, the decision to expand internationally is both a strategic opportunity and a significant challenge. Meaghan Johnson, a prominent Forbes Fintech Contributor, recently hosted an enlightening conversation featuring industry leaders to discuss the operational, marketing, cultural, and technological aspects of international expansion. The panelists included Simon Engelbrecht, CEO at SKARP, Duarte Garrido, Growth Marketing Leader at, and Ramón Crespí, a communication expert, entrepreneur, and investor.

Operational Challenges and Keys to Success:

The discussion started by addressing the operational challenges associated with international expansion, particularly in the B2C fintech space. Simon Engelbrecht emphasized the importance of understanding local cultures, user needs, and the significance of adapting to specific markets. He highlighted the need to focus on the basics, such as local partnerships and communication strategies, to ensure seamless integration with the local financial ecosystem.

Duarte Garrido expanded on the operational considerations by delving into the role of growth marketing in the international expansion process. He stressed the vitality of thorough market and competitor research, emphasizing that marketing is not just about promotion but encompasses all the groundwork required before entering a new market. Additionally, he shared insights on the strategic approach at, where geo expansion aligns with the global nature of their real-time payment product.

Navigating Cultural Nuances and Customer Experience:

The conversation then shifted towards the cultural nuances and customer experience, with Ramón Crespí shedding light on the importance of understanding that fintech companies are ultimately in the people’s business. He emphasized the risk of neglecting the human aspect in favor of technical complexities and the scalability pitfalls that can arise when cultural nuances are overlooked.

Crespí shared anecdotes from his experiences in Nordic and Southern European countries, underscoring the need for a deep understanding of local behaviors and preferences. He emphasized the significance of conducting thorough experiments to gauge how people behave in specific countries. He cites the example of time valuation in Finland and the cultural nuances affecting business interactions.

The Role of Technology in International Expansion:

The panelists then explored the role of technology, especially artificial intelligence (AI), in supporting international expansion. Simon Engelbrecht stressed the importance of having a scalable tech setup, emphasizing the need for quick integration with local systems and partners. Duarte Garrido expressed his excitement about the advancements in AI, particularly in marketing, highlighting tools like Google’s smart bidding and responsive ads that empower marketers to adapt rapidly to new markets.

As fintech companies continue to explore opportunities beyond their borders, the insights shared by industry leaders in this conversation provide a roadmap for navigating the complexities of international expansion. From understanding cultural nuances and prioritizing local adaptations to leveraging the power of AI in marketing and operations, these leaders offer valuable perspectives on ensuring success in a global fintech landscape. As the industry evolves, the lessons learned from these experiences will undoubtedly shape the strategies of future international expansions in fintech.

Unlocking the Power of AI in Fintech:

Simon Engelbrecht initiated the discussion on the transformative role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in fintech operations. He highlighted the significance of leveraging AI to analyze user patterns, particularly in the initial phase of acquiring the first two thousand users. By understanding customer support inquiries and refining the onboarding process, AI becomes an invaluable tool for optimizing product features and addressing user concerns promptly.

Duarte Garrido emphasized the importance of having a responsive product team that actively listens to the insights derived from AI tools. He noted that while the tools can provide valuable data, the key to success lies in an organization’s ability to adapt its product development strategies based on the research and data generated by AI.

Simon Engelbrecht further emphasized AI’s role in addressing the challenge of customer churn. AI can analyze patterns and provide insights that enable fintech companies to quickly identify and rectify issues, preventing users from abandoning their platforms. The discussion underscored the potential of AI as a catalyst for faster, data-driven decision-making in the competitive fintech landscape.

Trust and Verification in AI:

As the conversation shifted to the reliability of AI-generated content, Meaghan Johnson raised the question of trust. Duarte Garrido acknowledged the importance of having human oversight, stating that AI should be viewed as something other than a one-and-done solution. While AI can significantly enhance efficiency, it requires continuous verification to ensure accuracy, particularly in content creation and research.

Ramón Crespí shared his perspective on using AI strategically in his work. He highlighted the role of AI in providing additional data points when making decisions related to cultural nuances. However, he cautioned against overreliance on AI, emphasizing that it should complement human decision-making rather than replace it entirely.

The Human Element in Technology:

The discussion seamlessly transitioned to the human element in technology, with Ramón Crespí sharing a personal anecdote about using AI for trip planning. He highlighted the balance between leveraging AI for efficiency and maintaining a personal touch. The story illustrated that while AI can provide practical recommendations, it cannot replace human interactions’ emotional and experiential aspects.

Duarte Garrido echoed the sentiment, emphasizing that AI should be viewed as a tool that enhances human capabilities rather than a replacement. He emphasized the need for human expertise in fine-tuning AI-generated content and adapting strategies to local markets.

The Future of Fintech: Tips for Success in 2024 and Beyond:

The conversation concluded with insights into the future of fintech and tips for success in 2024. Simon Engelbrecht stressed the importance of thinking local and fixing the basics when expanding internationally. Duarte Garrido highlighted the need for meticulous market research, customer understanding, and a well-aligned value proposition before entering new markets.

Ramón Crespí provided a unique perspective on leadership, advising companies to hire slowly and keep teams small. He emphasized the significance of understanding individual differences in behavior based on biology, upbringing, and personality. This understanding, termed “morphology and more follow-ology,” can provide a competitive advantage in navigating diverse markets and establishing meaningful connections.

As fintech continues to shape the future of finance, the insights shared by industry leaders offer a valuable roadmap for navigating the complexities of international expansion, AI integration, and effective leadership. The fusion of technology and human expertise emerges as a powerful force, with AI acting as a catalyst for growth when complemented by strategic decision-making and a deep understanding of cultural nuances. The lessons learned from these discussions will undoubtedly guide fintech companies toward success in the dynamic landscape of 2024 and beyond.


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