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Europe’s Open Banking initiative stirred the financial pot, allowing third parties to access customers’ transaction data and initiate payments directly from their bank accounts (cutting out credit card middlemen eating high fees for breakfast).

To make these capabilities easier to access, open banking enablers have stepped in to enable third parties’ connection to multiple banks from a single API. In the UK, 50% of all open banking traffic goes through one bank API aggregator, TrueLayer, making it a potential category leader.

 In this article, we follow the breadcrumbs to uncover how—as the adoption of open banking grows—TrueLayer is positioning itself towards dominating the category. Follow the data, get the insight.

Traffic

If we compare some of the well-known open banking API aggregators’ web traffic, TrueLayer leads despite being founded 4 years after its closest competitor, US-based Plaid. 

Starting with traffic will lead us to the segments it’s targeting, the channels it’s succeeding in, and their competitive advantage.

Sources 

According to data from SimilarWeb, TrueLayer had 3.2 million web visitors in the 3 months leading up to February 2021. Let’s dig deeper.

Social

Twitter

Twitter is TrueLayer’s top-performing social traffic channel. However, with 2,232 followers, and Twitter only showing tweets to a small portion of that audience, I don’t think this is the key to their dominance.

Either way, they’ve posted consistently: 27 times in February, 21 in January and 20 in December. Their content is a mixture of article shares (stories about Fintech/open banking/TrueLayer), short videos highlighting customers’ use cases, links to the company’s blog and webinars.

One tactic worth noting is the use of survey reports that funnel visitors to custom landing pages catering to specific segments, as shown in the screenshot below.

Landing page targeting iGaming companies

Special Insight

On further scrutiny, I noticed the structure of TrueLayer’s market segmentation; showing the industries that are responding to their open banking solutions and their unique use cases.

Pay attention to the segments they’ve invested more resources into wooing (webinar and survey reports), that’s where their money is or they see the most potential.

Paid Ads

In a new category with as varied potential use cases as open banking, looking at a company’s paid ads and their landing pages is a great way to figure out what subcategories companies are placing their bets on.

For TrueLayer, the use of open banking data as a Know Your Customer (KYC) verification solution seems to be a priority at the moment. Same for the competitor, Tink, who is also running ads to this. 

Because traditional KYC providers are also jostling for the same eyeballs, this ad only goes after companies that need KYC when accepting payments. 

TrueLayer sells them on Open Banking data powered KYC, through automated account verification and educates them on instant account to account payments (of which the customer might not have been aware of when googling for ‘KYC’). 

That’s the challenge of selling a new category innovation, users don’t know what’s possible, thus marketers have to take them from what they know (KYC in this case), to the innovation (open banking powered KYC and payments).

Special Insight 

As the battle for open banking category leadership wages on, there seems to be room for dominating subcategories niched down by use-case e.g. onboarding and KYC or by industry e.g. targeting property or online betting verticals.

If TrueLayer is dominant in the personal finance management space (24% of its customer base is here), less-resourced competitors can zero in on segments like automated accounting or wealth tech and (hopefully) kick behinds like footballs there.

Also, knowing buyers love comparing providers, the company has been running ads against competitor’s (Plaid and Yapily) brand names with cheeky copy. The ad below shows up against searches for “Plaid”, a bigger competitor.

Referrals

Nearly one out of every three TrueLayer desktop visitors are from a referral source. A majority of these referrals are from users redirecting to TrueLayer when authorising access to their accounts for onboarding, payments and account aggregation.

  • Trading 212

 A trading and investment app that onboards and supports account to account payments through open banking (71.96% of desktop referral traffic). 

  • Santander bank

Santander customers authorizing access to their accounts through TrueLayer (9.28% desktop referral traffic ) 

  • $Markets

An online betting platform whose customers fund their accounts using open banking payments (4.57% desktop referral traffic).

  • OpenRent

A property marketplace and management platform that uses open banking to help landlords run new tenant’s reference checks (3.15% desktop referral traffic).

Special Insight

At first, I thought TrueLayer’s estimated 1.059 million monthly visitors comprised people interested in open banking, but from the above, a sizeable chunk is probably from customers of the companies using their open banking solution.

These companies also link back to specific pages that inform their users about the rules governing the shared data. For instance, among TrueLayer’s most linked-to pages below, you’ll spot the pattern.   

Notice these two pages each have almost as many back-links (with less effort)) as TrueLayer’s blog. This need to link back is a flywheel that builds TrueLayer’s reputation on search (as long as quality backlinks continue influencing Google rankings). 

However, because the nature of open banking products necessitates redirecting to the bank API aggregator’s site to consent to bank connections, all players in this space should enjoy the same flywheel as they gain more users. 

Direct

More than half of TrueLayer’s desktop traffic is direct, however, thinking this is all from people directly typing in the site’s URL is misleading.

Any unknown source is designated ‘direct’ by Google analytics: from failed tracking codes to misconfigured redirections, links from offline documents (ahem! those survey reports TrueLayer posted on Twitter), links on messaging apps like WhatsApp etc.

It could also be media mentions creating brand awareness that eventually leads to direct visits. Either way, in this study, we can’t put our finger on what is driving TrueLayer’s direct traffic. 

Future

The breadcrumbs from TrueLayer’s LinkedIn show possible acceleration in the following areas (based on job ads):

  • Wealth Tech (onboarding, account verification and payments). 
  • Ecommerce.
  • Payments (verification payments, payouts).
  • Data Products (the verticals that use open banking account data).

Conclusion

The key to winning in this category seems to be dominance in all the different verticals that could adopt open banking capabilities. 

However—for most industries—Open Banking solutions are a new innovation that won’t necessarily be heavily searched on Google.

Thus, the key for marketers in this space might lie in uncovering existing beliefs and experiences of potential adopters. E.g.”The best way for customers to import data into tax apps is through CSV uploads, onboarding is manual, credit cards are the way to accept payments & you can’t tell me anything.” (Okay, buddy, okay.)

The next step is using content to illuminate the problems that come with those existing methods (the status quo) e.g. shine a light on the impact of credit card fraud on companies.

Then educate users on how the new Open Banking powered solutions make things better. Go heavy on those use cases. ( That’s what I’ve embarked on at Open Banking Sherpa ).

The final move is distributing that message to where potential customers are, from guest posting to PR campaigns, social (paid and organic), etc. The reason is, the rate of problem awareness might not be the same as your desired adoption rate.

Either way, the hope is for Open Banking to eventually feel as natural to users as Google maps.

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