FinTech vs. GrowthTech - what’s the difference? We explore the world of GrowthTech and how it’s tied to FinTech.

Today’s digital-first landscape is a radical shift from previous years. It used to be only the most established, large-scale enterprises that launched digital platforms, outside of technology companies themselves. Between the time-consuming product development and expensive platform maintenance, it just wasn’t worth the investment for most smaller companies. Fortunately, consumers seemed content with analog offerings.

Now, expectations are different. Consumers are demanding digital services from all their providers — big or small. So where does that leave small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs)?

There may be greater access to third-party solutions and cloud technology than ever before, but this can still be out of the reach for many resource-restricted organizations. Yet without these solutions, businesses will fall further behind.

This is where GrowthTech comes in. Unlike FinTech (financial technology), GrowthTech is less about specific functionality and more about holistic strategy. Specifically, it’s focused on building a singular ecosystem that fosters company growth, through smart technology deployment.

Differentiating GrowthTech from FinTech

FinTech has been a growing industry for years; Statista reports that the total current global investment in FinTech amounts to $33.9 billion. As the name suggests, it refers to financial technology services in areas such as mobile commerce, big data, and alternative financial management. This recent growth is partly attributed to the rise in industries incorporating these FinTech tools into their larger platforms, through application integration.

The benefits of these integrations are multiple. Traditional banking institutions can leverage the technical expertise of third-party vendors to enhance their digital offerings, without investing in product development. Other industries that require payment integration, such as retail, can utilize FinTech solutions to make their digital experience a one-stop-shop; the alternative would be to redirect the consumer to another provider and disrupt the customer journey.

Then there’s the newcomer in the field: GrowthTech. Although yet to become common parlance, the name is quite self-explanatory. Simply put, GrowthTech refers to technology systems that are designed to support small business growth, through access to greater product integration and app development. Payments solutions are a critical piece, but not the only component of GrowthTech.

The Democratizing Effect of GrowthTech

Access is the keyword here, as lack of access is what has differentiated SMBs from their larger competitors. Even though there are more cloud network operators and third-party solutions for companies to leverage, these still require an initial investment. SMBs are just as aware of the need for a digital-first strategy, their customers are just as in favor of these new online formats — but the technology has remained out of reach.

With GrowthTech, SMBs can take advantage of all the solutions relevant for their business, but at a price and scale that fits their needs. Of course, many products in the market will support growth by providing greater operational capacity.

But GrowthTech focuses on the bigger picture: It’s not just about the bandwidth, but about attracting and retaining customers. This is where the holistic approach comes into play.

By creating a single product, or suite of products, that combines all these early-stage tools, GrowthTech providers make it possible for SMBs to afford the technology they need. Instead of having to devote resources for the most budget or small-scale version of multiple products, which then have to be integrated — they can implement a ready-built ecosystem designed just for their industry.

In practice, this will look different depending on the business itself. For a small-scale merchant, it may involve a platform that supports inventory management, data analytics, staff scheduling, payroll, mobile commerce, and transaction processing — all from one provider. As this provider will be serving multiple SMBs in this market, it becomes possible to build enterprise-level products but at small-scale prices.

Where Do We Grow From Here?

The key challenge for GrowthTech is that as an industry, it is still new. There are no market leaders yet in place to serve all the different categories of SMBs; the sheer number of categories, each with individual needs, means that it will likely take a while for providers to emerge in each area. While some providers may be able to bundle different tools and serve multiple industries, the unique requirements of SMBs limit this approach.

On top of that, each provider needs to develop a full-service offering for its customers, just in miniature. Although SMBs may only need to support 100s of customers, not 10,000s, they still want access to the full range of tools if they’re to compete with their larger counterparts. Building out such a comprehensive platform is likely to take time, which will delay adoption.

However, this is a need that is not going away. The pandemic forced many consumers to reconsider who they purchase from and which businesses they support; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that over half of consumers (56%) are now electing to shop closer to home and patronize local businesses. At the same time, these consumers expect the convenience and efficiency that comes with digital formats. The interest in SMBs is there — now they just need the technology to provide a comparable consumer experience.

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