Human Touch in FinTech is Key to Growth


This article originally appeared in the July/August 2017 issue of Payments Business Magazine. Bambora CCO Ryan Stewart gives his insights on what it truly means to add the human element to an otherwise low-touch industry. Ryan points out that the need for merchants to go digital is higher than ever before, and the FinTech companies that can offer merchants a personal solution are the ones that will succeed.

In 2016, global venture investment in FinTech grew by 11% to $17.4 billion. The industry has grown and diversified, yet merchants seem to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices - and even worse, bewildered by what FinTech is.

Businesses are facing pressure like never before to sell online, and while there are more options on how they want to approach selling online, a thread of uncertainty and confusion links all newcomers. In the following article I will highlight the pressures and hesitation for Canadian merchants to go digital, the vast amount of FinTech options available, and how in five years those in FinTech who succeed at offering a ‘human touch’ will win against those who don’t.

Let’s dive in.

The pressure for merchants to go digital

Just recently, Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, one of the world’s largest e-commerce company with a market value over $360 billion USD, spoke of a third technological revolution coming, warning businesses that AI and globalization are not to be ignored.

"The way to figure out the job creation, one of the best ways, is to help small business to sell their local products across the board. And we have to prepare now. Because the next 30 years is going to be painful [if they don’t]."


We see the beginning of this today, as 80% of Canadian consumers are shopping online yet only 17% of Canadian SMBs are selling online. This has caused Canadian shoppers to look south, with 67% of purchases going to other countries even though 62% of them prefer to buy from Canadian businesses.

Canadian businesses are currently losing out to globalization. Moving online will not only broaden their customer reach but increase their revenue substantially. Yet 70% would never consider selling online. With so many startling figures on why moving online would be healthy for their business, why the hesitation? As the figure shows below, 30% are worried about sliding customer service, 21% fear online fraud, and 19% lack the technological understanding.

Screen Shot 2017-06-26 at 2.05.32 PM.png

Source: Report: Less than one in five Canadian small businesses use online payment tools

All these concerns can be easily alleviated by customer centric payment solutions. It is up to those in the FinTech industry to make the transition to selling online as easy as possible by offering simple, seamless solutions that address their fears and position them to be successful.

The overwhelming number of FinTech options

The FinTech industry includes a broad range of companies from payments to blockchain, and the following graphic illustrates just how vast the industry truly is.

Source: The Global Fintech Landscape Reaches Over 1000 Companies, $105B In Funding, $867B In Value: Report

The good thing is that consumers are curious about our industry. The Google Search trends for FinTech companies over the last five years has been trending up. Yet people are still confused about what FinTech is and how it can help their business grow.  Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 11.29.00 AM.png

FinTech companies that build customer-centric solutions will not only be able to address uncertainties surrounding FinTech, but also simplify daily operations. Continuing to win market share and customer loyalty.

How those that offer a human touch will win

The value of human touch can come in many facets. From helpful staff available to assist customers while signing up, to always being there to troubleshoot an issue.

We all know the frustration of dealing with inadequate support in a time of need. But did you know that over 44% of U.S. consumers are taking their business elsewhere as a result of inadequate service - a loss of $41 billion a year? The number one complaint? Unhelpful and rude call center staff.

Now more than ever, top FinTech leaders are investing in their human capital to help businesses navigate the tricky world of online payments. A recent Gartner Survey found that as of 2016, 89% of companies expect to compete mostly on the basis of customer experience, versus 36% four years ago.

The customer centric approach will drive FinTech to build solutions that actually solve the right problems. Canadian merchants know their customers better than anybody else. The more FinTech entities work to understand the mindset of the consumer, the more we can bring the Canadian FinTech industry forward. This includes enabling new and traditional payment types that matter to Canadian consumers, opening and aligning the right sales channels for merchants spanning online, in-app, and in-store. All driven from customer needs.

With so much hesitation from Canadian business owners to sell online, finding the right FinTech solution will make or break the transition. For those looking for more support, a customer-centric provider will be able to make the move painless. Before signing up, merchants should take a deep dive into the provider’s developer and support documentation. Is the platform easy to navigate, do they use simple language or is it filled with industry jargon? Merchants should also compare providers on how easily they can be reached whether it is through an online chat function or simply over the phone.


While investment in FinTech continues to rise, so does the uncertainty of what it means to the business community. As we continue to raise the bar in innovation, it is important to keep in mind the end customer and how it affects their businesses. Many Canadian merchants are hesitant to make the move online, so it is our responsibility to show them the way. While there is a place for complexity, it should never stun new consumers. Those who invest in making a customer-centric company will continue to grow with the industry. Those who ignore all the signs will get left behind by their customers. This is true across all industries, but rings true even more within the world of Fintech.



Ryan Stewart is Chief Commercial Officer for Bambora North America where he leads the Sales, Marketing, and Product teams.  He is passionate about the dynamic payments space and focuses on delivering a simple, elegant payments mexperience to merchants and software providers globally.  Ryan has launched numerous disruptive payments products in Canada, the US and Europe, from online, to in-app, mPOS, and merchant online onboarding automation.



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