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Focusing on purpose in a saturated market: lessons from HSBC Zing's launch

Andrés Cáceres, Jnr Marketing Manager at Tribe Payments and member of The FMH community, dissects the go-to-market strategy of HSBC's newly launched fintech venture Zing.

Zing launch go to market strategy - FMH blog banner

Water has already passed under the bridge since HSBC's launch of Zing, a multi-currency payments app, and it's time to look back and talk about how it has reached different headlines and the way it has delivered messages to the market.

In this article, we will explore the communication strategy of Zing after its launch at the beginning of 2024, and the role of marketing and communication in structuring a go-to-market strategy that can align a company's purpose with the way its products are being developed.

Standing out in a crowded market

The fintech landscape thrives on fresh ideas, with new players constantly entering to fill market gaps. Traditionally, these newcomers create a "rising tide effect," expanding the overall market size and even benefiting existing players through collaboration.

With Zing, however, its role in the payments ecosystem remains unclear. While it promises "worry-free international money" and "transparent fees," these features are already standard in regions like the UK and Europe. This lack of a distinct target audience, coupled with generic messaging, creates the impression that Zing isn't aiming to expand the market but rather compete within the existing space. This scenario could potentially lead to a "shrinking pie" for established players.

On this front, our members have spoken:

Community reaction to Zing launch


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Download figures and the challenge of earning trust

According to Apptopia, almost 2 months after its launch the Zing app was downloaded 36,000 times in the UK.  This trails behind established competitors Wise (203,000 downloads) and Revolut (1.087 million downloads) in the same period. It's also worth noting that a fully comparable download timeframe across all three apps isn't publicly available.

Building trust in competitive financial sectors like cross-border payments is a marathon, not a sprint. Zing's download numbers reflect this challenge underscores the critical role of product marketing strategy for any new entrant. To bridge the market share gap is crucial for companies to showcase their product value-added services and a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) through a targeted marketing strategy. 

However, Zing's current messaging fails to set it apart from established players. Adding to this challenge is the growing phenomenon of "app fatigue," where users are increasingly hesitant to download new apps due to the sheer number already vying for their attention. This begs the critical question: Does Zing offer a unique value proposition compelling enough to entice users to download yet another app?

The growing trend of app fatigue, highlighted by reports indicating declining mobile app usage and installation, reinforces the need for Zing to go beyond generic messaging. Statistics from Insider Intelligence (2023) and Kurve Mobile (2024) reveal alarming figures: 62% of users avoid app downloads, and 71% churn within 3 months. In this context, the current messages sent to the market and the press are yet to be disruptive enough to resonate with an already addressed audience and to drive downloads.

Besides features and towards a unified purpose

Today, simply focusing on product functionality is not enough. Zing messaging falls short of offering a unique value proposition compared to its competitors. To truly stand out, the brand needs to collaborate with marketing and identify a clear "why": a functional and aspirational idea that resonates with the target audience and drives them towards tangible, actionable outcomes.

Defining a clear "why" is not just about crafting marketing slogans. It's about establishing a core ideal that permeates every facet of the company. This "why" becomes the driving force behind continuous product evolution, transforming mere specs into solutions that truly connect with customers.

In order to connect with customers, companies might consider delivering technology with a purpose; a product marketing interpretation of the way we can address an existing or new market with an innovative approach under a clear promise to the market. With this in mind, a change of perspective can make a company be more than its products. 

Focusing on the bigger picture, we can learn from companies like Revolut. Initially driven by the desire to "change the way you money," Revolut translated this "why" into an "all-in-one finance app" (the "how") that continuously expands its "what" by offering new solutions. This constant reinterpretation of their core purpose keeps them focused on delivering on their promise across every product they introduce.

Zing versus the world: PR coverage that confronts them with Wise and Revolut

Talking about competitors, it’s time to address the way the media has approached Zing. On a quick search with the keywords “HSBC zing”, it is easy to find headlines that confront it with Wise, Revolut and Monzo. Even in podcasts like Fintech Insider where their 815 episode was called: “News: Should Wise be worried about Zing?”.

Media response to Zing launch

That approach, whether intended by HSBC or created in the heat of the moment, highlights a key issue: neither the product nor the brand messaging positions Zing as a player with a unique offering. Instead, the way to refer to it is only by well-established competitors and not by a product or a clearly defined target audience. 

In contrast, Wise's response to the competition's launch showcased a strategic PR move. By welcoming Zing and embracing the media hype, they cleverly leveraged the opportunity to reinforce their brand personality, create engaging content, and showcase their products.  Kudos to the Wise PR and marketing team and for their quick approach to deliver a clear message in online and offline channels such as Linkedin, their website, printed press and much more.

Wise response to Zing

Lessons learned 

Despite Zing's undeniable potential, its current approach - heavily reliant on comparisons and lacking a clear differentiating message - risks becoming just another player.

The Zing experience offers valuable lessons for the FinTech industry as a whole. To truly disrupt the landscape, we must craft compelling value propositions that deeply resonate with our target audience and effectively communicate our unique offerings. Additionally, embracing transparency and open communication will foster trust and engagement with potential users. By taking these crucial steps, we can move beyond comparisons and carve our own niche, establishing ourselves as distinct forces in the payments space.

This is a call to action for all FinTech marketers out there. Let's pave the way to change the narrative within our companies, shifting from "just another slice" to making the cake bigger for everyone. We can achieve this ambitious goal by championing the strategic redefinition of purpose and focusing on how our solutions truly benefit the market.


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