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Playing the fintech game

Playing the fintech game header

As a FinTech startup you know you have an awesome solution for that problem that exists. You spent months getting feedback, building the product, maybe getting your first customers, and now you just need the banks to pay attention and realize how good things could be if they worked with you.

The people you’re finally introduced to sounded really keen, but suddenly everything starts going into slow motion. What’s happening?! Yes your meeting has already been rescheduled five times due to Mary’s holiday and Joe’s conference schedule, and that one time where it took four weeks to get the people needed in the same room, but surely now they are ready to go? Sadly not, you’ve actually entered into…

The game of fintech startup life

Roll the dice to see where you land, will it be:

The strategy pet project

Little did you know that you’ve actually ended up speaking to the strategy team — they love you for the possibility of what could be, but really you’re now doomed to the fate of residing as a logo on a PowerPoint slide. The strategy team wheel you out to shock their colleagues into action, but no one has any serious intention to do business with you.

RETURN TO GO, Do Not Collect Any Money.

The almost but not quite

It turns out the problem you solve could help make the bank a lot of money, but it’s not high enough up their list priorities. The list that has been carefully constructed through a number of cross-department innovation meetings, forms that have been halfheartedly submitted with nominal priorities and vague commitments of resources. Once pulled together, it turns out your startup tackles problem number 7 and no one will spend time with you until problems 1–5 are crossed off the list.


The disappearing pathway

Finally, you have a stakeholder who believes in your cause! You are the solution the bank has been looking for and they are determined to help you navigate the internal maze to get wider support. But what’s this — they’ve stopped replying to your emails and aren’t taking your calls, are you being ghosted?! Then the inevitable “Barbra is no longer at Bank X” email arrives. New job, new company, new priorities that aren’t you.

RETURN TO GO, Do Not Collect Any Money.

The mythical opportunity

“Just do this Proof of Concept (PoC) first to check your solution works, but we can’t pay you for it. Oh, and we might expand the scope of work and change the definitions of success as we get into it. One last thing. I should have said this up-front, but it didn’t come up - we don’t have a firm commitment from the business unit to pay for a commercial deal, even if the PoC is successful.”

PICK A CHANCE CARD Either Pay The Bank Or Jump Ahead Four Places

The lone barrier

Congratulations! Your PoC chance card paid off! The business unit is keen to work with you, but hold on what’s this… Procurement is not having it. You’re too small, too young, too unproven. Trying to fight procurement, change risk or regulatory processes designed for a bygone era is like wading into waist-high mud. Even your most ardent of internal champions will fall by the wayside.


Straight to the money

Thankfully, your thoughtful and regular update emails to your internal contact at the bank paid off. When your problem hit number 5 on their priority list you were able to network your way to some senior stakeholders who, with the help of the compliance audits you built up over the waiting months, pushed you through procurement and into a deal!

FREE PARKING, Celebrate With A Cold LaCroix


Once you have a bank in your hand, your problems aren’t over yet. You haven’t reached the end goal of customer success. You must roll the dice again, this time will you land on:

Mr “I’m kind of a big deal”

So “big” a deal in fact that they have significant anxiety about the results your technology will achieve. Will it make that other department more crucial? Will it make their 5 year project redundant? Will it mean reassignments in their team? How much less important and powerful might he become?! Much safer to put a stop to it now and secure that final promotion pre-retirement.

RETURN TO PHASE 1, Give Up One Client Card

The pay out

The deal is done — the business unit has given you a signed letter of intent, you’ve agreed a detailed cope of work and now it’s just a matter of crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s on the contract. Oh, and completing due diligence for the bank. Due dil that requires you to quadruple your insurance cover, run comprehensive compliance audits, penetration testing, code escrow, on prem deployment, you name it. Thankfully, it will just take ten years for you to make your money back on their monthly SaaS fee after this outlay.

INCOME TAX, Pay The Bank $200,000

You say ‘tomato’ I say ‘tomato’

Whether you’re set up as a service provider, running a joint venture or have been brought in-house, you can’t help but face a clash of cultures at some point. God forbid the idea that a MacBook could be secure enough for the IT department! What do you mean you want to use their logo on an unapproved slide?! How many regulatory and legal checks need to happen before launch?? I’m sure they warned you that your application needs to be faxed over, strapped to a carrier pigeon and flown to the compliance bunker…

PICK A COMMUNITY CARD, Miss One Turn Lost In Translation

All systems are go!

Your technology was deployed successfully, your C-suite relationships pushed through any internal barriers, and your careful stakeholder engagement plan helped get their teams excited and supportive about your technology. Now with the bank experiencing the full brilliance of your product, you can take a breath and move on to your next target.

LANK ON A BANK, Take A Client Card, Roll Again.

(Disclaimer: Monopoly in no way endorses Alloy or is aware of our existence. However, we love Monopoly — if you don’t own a board go out and buy one now!)

Thanks to Charles Hearn.

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