Case Study

How a global FinTech captured growth in the SME segment

A global FinTech used an ecosystem approach to create a unique TaaS proposition, to boost its share in the overlooked SME market.

The better the question

What does better look like for underserved SMEs?

SMEs represent an opportunity for financial services providers, and a differentiated offering was key to capturing growth.


Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the global economy; they account for 99% of businesses in OECD countries,1 driving growth, innovation and job creation. Historically, they have been underserved by financial institutions, with 40% having unmet financial needs.2

Post the COVID-19 pandemic, SMEs have recalibrated how they look at their businesses. Traditional financial products and services, and the channels through which they are delivered, have come under scrutiny due to the perceived gap between innovative consumer financial offerings and those available for businesses. This shift in perspective extends to their relationship with financial providers, bringing new expectations and priorities.

Managing complexity
of SMEs rely on more than four financial providers

Fast and agile digital financial services providers, unencumbered by legacy technology, have been swift to enter the market and serve SMEs’ evolving needs. They are adopting new models and propositions to expand connectivity and integration with businesses. These range from Banking as a Service (BaaS), which embeds financial services directly into marketplaces, to offering SME-tailored product sets. However, with no single provider offering a comprehensive solution, 33% of SMEs are relying on more than four financial service providers.3


A global FinTech was keen to take advantage of this momentum to grow its market share. The company wanted to focus on SMEs specifically and offer a comprehensive solution to become the sole financial provider for its clients. The challenges it faced were threefold:

  1. While the company had a presence in many countries, it lacked market penetration as well as small business expertise in some markets.
  2. It had limited expertise in the products and services it wanted to add to its offering.
  3. With a lack of clear winners among traditional financial providers serving SMEs, the global FinTech had to think beyond the normal financial services silos to create a holistic and integrated solution.

To move forward with this crucial business decision, the FinTech engaged EY teams to help define a market entry strategy and a core Treasury-as-a-Service (TaaS) proposition that helped address SMEs’ most pressing challenges via a client-facing platform. The company also required a roadmap for launching, scaling and enhancing the TaaS offering in markets with the greatest growth potential.


An existing working relationship meant that the client was confident that the EY teams understood the FinTech landscape, and could blend insight and strategy, with proven execution experience.


Crucially, along with its experience in banking and FinTech, the EY teams brought the voice of SMEs to the table. Along with deep sector knowledge, the team drew on insights from the EY Global SME Survey to provide the client with a detailed, top-down view of SMEs, their pain points and opportunities and, most importantly, their shifting expectations of financial providers. 

The better the answer

Reimagining the SME client’s needs

Pairing deep sector understanding with an ecosystem approach, the EY teams developed a unified, SME-centric proposition.


A global project requires a global team. At the start of the project, EY teams brought together professionals from the US, EMEIA and Asia-Pacific, with a support layer in India providing research, insight and sector knowledge.


The team began with a hypothesis-based approach, drawing on market insights to identify which countries, products and services should be prioritized for launch. Using a market assessment framework, the team looked at the FinTech’s footprint in a cross-section of markets, the value-add and growth opportunities, as well as key challenges and pain points. In parallel, the team considered core and incremental TaaS offerings, focusing on finding synergies between liquidity, cash flow and funding solutions and the client’s existing capabilities.


Integration proved to be a major challenge. Reviewing the client’s extensive, but fragmented, portfolio of applications, the team identified that there was a trade-off to be made between utilizing existing applications and internal platforms versus speed to market. The solution was brought together in an ecosystem, where the client would build some elements in-house, some would be bought in and bolted on, and others would be provided by third parties.


Innovative technology was fundamental to helping deliver a more SME-centric experience. The TaaS solution is predictive and event-driven. If a business is running out of cash, a traditional provider might offer a line of credit or an inventory financing loan. By contrast, the platform would be able to recognize a cash shortfall and, based on its understanding of the business and its inventory, might recommend factoring in their outstanding invoices instead.


Another important but nuanced innovation was defining the proposition in a more SME-centric way. Rather than focus on internal or jargon-heavy product categories, the EY teams reframed the offering in terms of “manage your business,” “manage your employees,” and “manage your outreach” — language that resonates with business owners and suggests clear benefits.

The better the world works

A differentiated proposition helps the global FinTech stand out

Capturing market share relied on helping deliver tailored tools and services rather than siloed products.


Within a tight, 12-week time frame, the EY teams identified a pilot market and a primary proposition focused on liquidity management, cash flow and credit solutions. They also built a roadmap which demonstrated how the FinTech’s proposition for SMEs would be refined and tailored to future growth markets. The team also looked beyond the most viable product, bringing in EY team’s experience in insurance and tax to demonstrate other products and services the FinTech could wrap around the initial TaaS offering to better serve their SME clients.

“Knowing how to combine ecosystems, bringing together financial services providers, FinTech and non-financial services, was key to the project’s success,” says Matt Cox, EY Global Corporate, Commercial, and SME Banking (CCSB) Consulting Leader. “It’s an approach that we knew we could rely on to help accelerate the validation of the business case and get to market.” It was also an approach that reflected the needs of the end-customer. As Cox points out, “SMEs are more interested in one holistic experience, not who’s providing it.”

This project highlights the versatility of the EY ecosystem approach, demonstrating that even when a client’s internal infrastructure initially lacks capability, it’s possible to build out a dynamic platform through the strategic use of technology and ecosystem partnerships. The client now has the blueprint for an end-state platform where new services are launched and old ones are withdrawn, quickly and seamlessly. 

Knowing how to combine ecosystems, bringing together financial services providers, FinTech and non-financial services, was key.

A thriving SME sector drives innovation and competitiveness. More than siloed products, small businesses need tools to help them overcome challenges and optimize opportunities. Financial services providers must adapt their offerings accordingly and embrace a new SME-centric mindset to capture growth in this vibrant sector.

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