This year, 143 MBA2021 students delivered 32 LondonCAP group consulting projects for clients virtually. Here, one client, LOQBOX, tell us about how their LondonCAP project team developed a roadmap for geographical expansion and challenged their strategy.
LondonCAP offers leading London-based companies a terrific opportunity to engage a diverse group of talented LBS MBA students to help address a pressing business challenge of strategic importance.
LOQBOX is on a mission to solve the problem of financial exclusion globally. Launching in the UK in July 2017 and in the US in December 2019, we wanted to build on this success and identify the next countries we should expand into.
Now, there is a small caveat to this case study. We want to share as much information as possible about the hard work of the team but some of the information is commercially sensitive as it defines the next strategic steps for LOQBOX. We aren’t being secret squirrels, but we can’t have our competitors taking advantage of the hard work done by the LondonCAP team!
We had a particular location in mind for geographic expansion based on the size of the market, the surge of interest in FinTech in the country as well as on the experiences of two members of our Senior team who had previously worked there and understood the financial market and the impact financial exclusion is having on the country. We also have some key partners based there which would significantly help with the launch. As a wider study of different countries had not yet been undertaken, the management team remained open-minded whether this was the best next step for the company.
Accordingly, before pursuing our next move as a viable option, we wanted to run a project to validate if this was the right opportunity for LOQBOX. Given the limited resources within the team, we needed a dedicated group of people to provide a detailed market, regulatory and cost study to determine the timing and process for LOQBOX’s next step. That is where the LondonCAP project team came in…
The LondonCAP team broke the problem down into three stages, starting with all possible countries and narrowing them down to 9 countries for the final deep dive.
Stage one: Out of195 countries the team completed a basic level of analysis with information from the International Monetary Fund DataBase. We identified the countries which had at least one credit rating agency (Equifax, TransUnion, Experian), resulting in 61 countries. From this we identified the most promising countries using economic indicators considered to assess attractiveness in terms of market size, resulting in 24 countries.
Stage two: The team built a scoring system to rank the 24 countries across a number of metrics spanning four pillars: Industry Structure, Market Potential, Macro Stability and Rule of Law. This narrowed the list down to nine countries.
Stage three: This involved sizing the markets using a Total Available Market (TAM), Serviceable Available Market (SAM) and Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM) methodology, and exploring the ease of deployment, product build and regulatory environment.
Three Key Insights
- Countries fell into two ‘buckets’; (1) high-income countries with advanced economies; and (2) emerging markets that have a higher population but had lower scores in both criteria.
- Variables like financial education of potential users and the relative chargeable fees are key for the business model.
- Market size (SOM) is highly impacted by the number of account holders in each country. When potential fees are applied (~3 hours of min wage) the $SOM is significantly higher in the high-income bucket.
Tier I: The team made an initial recommendation of two countries for LOQBOX to consider. It was clear that countries with mature financial systems have a high level of attractiveness – LOQBOX partners operate in these countries, there is UK government support and high regulatory similarity with the UK.
Tier II: Two further locations were then put forward, although additional research was needed in order to ratify the importance of credit scoring in both countries.
Tier III: Finally, one last country was put forward as a first move to emerging economies. It was a location that could be interesting to explore once the company develops an established presence in the US market.
The analysis presented by the LondonCAP team fundamentally challenged the thinking of the management team on where the most attractive opportunities for geographic expansion might be. Their assumptions were that developing countries have a greater need for financial inclusion and typically have larger populations and thus are the countries we should prioritise for expansion.
However, based on the work undertaken by LondonCAP we have adapted our plans. While developing economies are still a very exciting opportunity, there are lower hanging fruit we should focus on first.
Another interesting outcome of this study was that mainland Europe didn’t really feature in the top countries. One European country was included but there were question marks over its market readiness for a credit builder product.
Having a dedicated team for a specific project without the day-to-day distractions of the business is the best way to immerse yourself into strategic development. This ensures the right level of focus is provided and having a fresh set of eyes on the work provided an unbiased approach to the project. This helped us to challenge ourselves and any unconscious bias off the back of the questions the cohort asked throughout the project.
A data led, scientific approach is our preferred strategy for strategic decision-making because as proven by this project, the data driven answer might be different to what you expected.
This exercise fundamentally challenged our strategy. This is the key to adding value as a consultancy project. Whether the strategy changes or not, the fact the discussion is generated helps ensure the right path is chosen.
To get the best outcomes you have to invest the time in the LondonCAP project team to make sure they have all the information they need and have regular touch points to provide regular feedback. Our team was driven, passionate and extremely knowledgeable. We are very proud to work with LondonCAP and look forward to welcoming the next cohort in 2021.