At the outbreak of Covid, it is fair to say that the majority of businesses were compelled to rethink the business proposition they had planned for 2020.

In FinTech, many marketers saw it as an opportunity to pivot their proposition, and explore new avenues for innovation and revenue.

In this FINITE FinTech Interview, we talked to Eleanor Beaumont-Smith, who was hired as Head of Growth at Currensea, to lead the marketing department through lockdowns and an economic downturn.

Currensea uses open-banking technology to make the purchase of overseas goods and services accessible, simple, and charge-free for everyone.

This interview covers:

  • How Currensea pivoted their business proposition in response to the pandemic
  • Focussing on brand to educate a FinTech market
  • Implementing a sustainability initiative to offer more value to customers through their online banking
  • Challenging linear propositions of traditional banks

FINITE: Hi Eleanor. Thanks for being a FINITE member, and we’re excited to share your insights with the community. To start off, what is your background in FinTech marketing and what does your role as Head of Growth at Currensea look like currently?

Eleanor: Hi there, sure thing. I started working in the FX market, which is how I got into FinTech marketing. I worked for a company called Currencies Direct to help them build up the B2B marketing side of their team. So whilst that was FinTech focused, it was focused mainly on hedging. 

Through there I worked for an alternative finance lender. I was their first marketing hire there, trying to help them build up brand presence. They had a really cool platform that offered alternative finance to SMEs and various risk insights and credit control tools. 

And now I am Head of Growth at Currensea, an Open Banking debit card platform, to help them build up their marketing team. They had some marketing before, but they wanted to launch their B2B product to support SMEs in response to Covid lockdowns. So my role was to help them implement their B2B marketing strategy that they’d been putting together and to help build the brand in general.

FINITE: That sounds really interesting. Could you give us an overview of how you helped Currensea pivot their business proposition to focus on B2B during the outbreak of COVID?

Eleanor: Yeah, absolutely. When Covid hit, our B2C proposition was not as strong because lockdowns put a pause on travelling and needing currency exchange.  

Currensea started in January last year, two months before the pandemic hit, and an SME offering was always in the marketing pipeline. We decided to bring that SME release forward because the SME card focuses on businesses that are using SaaS products. 

A lot of businesses don’t realise how hit they are by hidden foreign exchange fees because although platforms offer payment in pounds, it’s often a preferential rate to pay in the local currency. 

FINITE: That seems like a great proposition. As the marketing lead who oversaw that offering, did you focus more on the product or the brand side of things? 

Eleanor: I was mainly focussed on the brand side of things because we were a new company, no one had really heard of us and there’s this huge gap about open banking and what that actually means. 

Our strategy was about trying to get the Currensea message out there, educate people what it’s about, and also understand what existing users think of the product. Our product team is constantly developing the app and the card itself, so it’s just making sure that we’re staying ahead of that curve.

We had a really successful PR campaign. We’ve now been featured in a lot of well-known publications, including Forbes, The Daily Express, The Times. We’ve got some really cool partnership channels, such as MoneySuperMarket and Money-saving Expert, and our Trustpilot score has gone up. 

FINITE: Ahead of more lockdowns and hopefully a return to normalcy, what are your plans for marketing in 2021?

Eleanor: For 2021, we are still pushing the SME product and we’ve also seen this huge uptake in our consumer product. 

We have quite an intense content strategy, working as a team to help people understand what open banking is in general. A lot of people have been forever told, ‘do not share your banking details’ and people get nervous about it. Actually, that’s nothing to do with currency, it’s a completely secure API. Our content plan is about making sure that individuals know open banking offers you all the same security as your existing bank account.

So we’re really pushing out that education piece to improve the trust of our users and make sure that they don’t feel anxious about working with open banking providers. 

Currently we have a partnership with a tree planting company. So for every twenty-five pounds equivalent of currency spent on the currency card they plant a tree. We’ve also got another environmental focus coming out in the next month. We’re trying to help travelers offset some of their carbon emissions, and just make it as easy as possible for them to do the right thing. We want to take out all of the effort in donating to charities. 

FINITE: It’s great to hear you’re getting involved in charity and sustainability! Do you think the alignment of company values and a marketing strategy is becoming more important for modern consumers?  

Eleanor: Absolutely. I think that in traditional banking, the way people used their bank account was really linear. FinTechs are now offering consumers more choice and new ways for people to look at their money. 

We launched our tree campaign at the beginning of last year, and since then there’s so many different providers that are now offering the ability to plant trees and the ability to offset those emissions. Environmental issues are definitely at the forefront of people’s minds. So if you can easily help out through your finances, then it’s a win-win. 

I definitely think that values are more important to consumers when they’re looking at which FinTechs they want to work with. There’s so much choice on the market! I think there’s more of an affinity with your own personal values and who you actually work with nowadays. 

When I’m choosing all sorts of products in my own life, especially from a tech point of view, I look at the wider company. Do I actually want to work with these people? Would I want to be seen using their tools? How do they treat their customers? And what can I get out of that partnership? Because it is a partnership really.

FINITE: That’s a really great point, and we’re looking forward to seeing what other trajectories FinTechs can offer their customers. Thanks for sharing your experience with us Eleanor! 

To read the last edition of our FINITE FinTech Interview Series, and to learn more about return on marketing investment, head here