Its nice to see something that I championed 18 months ago now become a reality. Spark headphones had a great idea, but needed serious funding to bring it to market. Many would simply shrug their shoulders and move on. Some things are maybe not to be.
But not Spark. They decided to get the funding without the banks or other formal channels taking away control from their business, just for bringing it to market. Spark went down the crowd-funding route. Crowd-funding is where ordinary people – the people in the street like you or me – can invest in an idea they think is great and just put in whatever money they feel comfortable with. Its that simple.
Crowd-funding in online and purely social-media driven technology. Most campaigns are run for a short period with a specific target in mind. If that goal isn’t reached, you get your money back. So its a great low risk strategy. But one that’s really satisfying to see come to market. Many crowd-funded businesses offer an incentive, such as shares or you get the items you invested in at preferential rates. But all offer the satisfaction of putting one over on the banks and the suits.
And that can’t be bad, can it?
Sick of trying to balance your SmartPhone, tablet or compact camera when taking a snap of friends or other social stuff – are the close-up selfies making you look like a hamster?
Well take a look at this device. Its called the iStabilizer. Its a really cool mount for your photo device that’ll probably attract as much attention as that new iPhone 6 of yours. The company has been making universal lightweight compact tripods, steady cams, and other products for smartphones, tablets and cameras for some time. And this cool gadget has just won the USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Travel Award in the Best App/Gadget for Phone Pics category.
USA Today’s awards are voted for digitally, so give an accurate reflection of what today’s users of mobile devices really like. In making this award, USA Today said “USA TODAY is thrilled to have this method of sharing what 10Best and USA TODAY readers and users love most,” said John Peters, President of USA TODAY Travel Media Group.
“Our readers are well-informed, well-traveled and opinionated. At the end of the day, content on our platforms is a reflection of them. A business which finds itself the recipient of a 10Best Readers’ Choice Award has really accomplished something.”
USA Today site recently acquired 10Best.com, which provides users with original, unbiased, and experiential travel content of top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for top destinations in the U.S. and around the world. The site’s uniqueness is its team of local travel experts who are not only experts in their fields and their cities, but discriminating in their tastes. These local experts live in the city they write about, so the content is constantly updated.
In 2012, 10Best.com averaged more than 700,000 monthly unique visitors generating approximately 28 million page views. 10Best.com was recently acquired by USA TODAY, the nation’s number one newspaper in print circulation with an average of more than 1.6 million daily. USATODAY.com, an award-winning newspaper website launched in 1995, reaches a combined 6.6 million readers daily.
Go find out more at http://www.10best.com or http://www.istabilizer.com.
Its cold, you’re standing outside. Waiting for a bus, train or shopping. But we still need to use our technology and stay warm too, right?
Well, just check these out. They’re new leather touchscreen gloves from Dutch company Mujjo.
These techno-gloves are powered by state of the art nanotechnology, which mimics the conductive properties of the human skin, Mujjo’s touchscreen gloves offer an unrestricted touchscreen experience and enable the user to utilize all fingers and even the palm of their hand.
The gloves – along with a breathtaking range of other products – were designed by Remy Nagelmaeker, the co-founder of Mujjo. The usability doesn’t just stop with the ability to use your phone, tablet or other touch device as easily as you can with your bare fingertips, the gloves are clever from the aesthetic point of view, too. I’ll let Remy explain:
“The matte finishing of the leather allows for a well-balanced iconic look in uniform dark tones along with a few areas of contrast intensifying the low-key design. Regular leather gloves don’t work with touchscreens, but these will work flawlessly with almost every touchscreen, because they feature state-of-the-art nanotechnology.”
These gloves’ fold-over closure features the brand’s familiar slant line and uniquely integrates a neat magnetic snap closure, so you keep hold of your valuable tech (or partner’s hand!) while fastening your gloves.
The total package
Its essential for any premium product to impart a great experience to the buyer in or out of the box. Not only when presenting a gift, but also when paying for them yourself. Its something the cheaper end of the market often overlooks. The cool design of Mujjo’s products extends to the box.That’s been given some serious design thought, too. Company founder Tom Canters takes up the story:
“We’ve put serious effort into designing the gift box. It is important to us that the high quality of these leather gloves radiates through the packaging. The gift box package embodies the low-key personality of the gloves, delicate yet striking. Made with attention to detail, the materials are of uniform dark tones and contrasting textures.”
I can’t disagree.
The gloves are part of a range of truly inspired, quality tech-wear that not only works superbly, but captures the current street biker and cafe racer trend. But don’t worry. You don’t need to have slung your leg over a Triumph or Ducati bike to look cool.
Just buy the gloves. Its all you need.
Find out more, right here. PS: Christmas is coming – if any of my generous friends are reading this…
London, 4 June 2015: Smart devices on track to replace cash and cards as UK mobile payments projected to hit over £1.2bn a week by 2020. So says Jeremy Nicholds, Executive Director for Mobile, Visa Europe.
Visa’s latest predictions
Despite many false dawns, UK mobile payments is predicted to grow three-fold over the next five years as savvy shoppers embrace new options and spend more on mobile, with one in four consumers estimated to spend more than £50 a week on mobile by 2020.
British consumers driving the change
Nicholds believes the UK is moving towards a “cash-last” society as one in four Brits expect to use their mobile phone to make payments on a daily basis by 2020, growing from the one in twelve who do so already today. According to new research from Visa Europe, consumer adoption of mobile payments will grow faster than ever in the next five years, with six in ten Britons (60%) expected to use their mobile devices for payments at least once a week by 2020.
The UK mobile payments boom will probably see an upsurge in the weekly value spent using mobile devices, with the market growing to an estimated £1.2bn per week* by 2020. The tech-enabled shopper expects to spend £27 on mobile each week by 2020, up from the £17 they spend today. In fact, nearly 24% respondents think they could spend more than £50 a week using a mobile device by 2020, an estimate sure to raise eyebrows in the payments industry.
While apps and music are still the items are the most popular mobile purchase today, Visa has observed a growing number of consumers already buying higher value items, with electronics (23%) and clothes (22%) among their top-five most purchased m-commerce items.
The expected British embrace of digital payments is a sign of shoppers’ becoming less nervous with mobile payments as the option becomes more widely available, easier to use and better understood. With the increasing publicity around m-commerce options, digital wallets and contactless payments, 43% of shoppers say they may be interested in using a mobile wallet service and nearly half (47%) are interested in using their smartphone to make low-value contactless payments in a shop.
Nicholds added, “While we’re excited to see consumers saying they expect to triple their weekly spend using mobile payments over the next five years, we at Visa think those numbers could be rather conservative and that the actual adoption rate will be much higher. This is particularly true when you look at the growth in contactless usage, which saw European usage grow by 2x and spend grow by 3x over the last 12 months.
Contactless and online commerce enhancements have been key in paving the way for the next generation of mobile payment technology. The environmental conditions are already in place to meet the demands and expectations for digital payments. It’s no longer a question of ‘if’ consumers will embrace this new way to pay – it’s when – and for us the next 12 months are when mobile payments become mainstream.”
People who’re already using mobile devices to make transactions are also open to other mobile money services. The research highlights that these ‘mobile money’ users are five times more likely to be interested in paying friends through a smartphone app compared to non-users (48% vs. 9%). One in five would be open to social media payments too, compared with only one in twenty non-users.
Lack of knowledge – and worries, too
When looking at the main concerns about mobile payments, a third of respondents admitted that they simply didn’t know enough about it. As with other new technologies, this has resulted in apprehension about issues like privacy, fraud and security.
Jeremy Nicholds continued, “We’re witnessing a huge surge in interest from consumers in the UK for faster and more convenient payment methods as mobile and online commerce technologies continue to evolve at pace. This is why Visa Europe spends more than €200 million in on innovation including a number of secure payment technologies such as tokenisation to address security and convenience.
When it comes to money, concerns over control and security are understandable though a simple lack of knowledge is often an underlying cause, and consumers are quick to see the benefits of convenience. We’ve seen this with contactless card adoption – once people learn about the technology, see others using it and get used to paying with it, usage soars.”
Friction at the point of sale
Visa has invested a lot of money in mobile payments, with services like Apple’s ApplePay slowly beginning to get traction. But its the retailers themselves, who’ll have to invest heavily in new Point-of-Sale infrastructure, something they’re currently reluctant to do as consumer interest is still a long way away from critical mass and many moving to online buying anyway.
The problem with mobile payments and a point may industry commentators always make is that its solving a problem that simply doesn’t exist. Cards are easy to use, quick, familiar, have virtually 100% adoption everywhere, are cheap and free to replace. Who’ll buy you a new phone if it breaks or gets stolen?
You’re also far more likely to be mugged for that nice expensive smartphone than a piece of plastic.
But let’s not forget, suppliers like Visa and MasterCard get huge amounts of money from retailers and don’t want to lose out, should mobile payments take off.
And let’s not forget the threat posed by PayPal – but that’s a topic for another day!
About the ‘Mobile Money’ report
The mobile money research was conducted between 30 April and 20 May 2015 in six European countries: Finland, France, Germany, Poland, Spain and the UK. The total sample size was 12,015 consumers, approximately 2,000 respondents per country.
For more information, visit www.visaeurope.com and @VisaEuropeNews
[*] Figure calculated from ONS Population Estimates for UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, Mid-2013 release and research figures from Visa Europe’s Mobile Money report.
Could London overtake Silicon Valley as Crypto-currency’s centre of excellence?
Well, Visa thinks so. it hosted a gathering of crypto-currency start-ups and other interested parties to its Digital Catapult event in London recently.
Visa’s not alone in thinking this. An expert from the London School of Economics (LSE), one of the most respected financial academic centres in the world believes it too. They even put a date on it – 2020.
Crypto-currency set to explode?
Investment in crypto-currency start-ups in 2015 could even beat the dotcom frenzy of a few years ago.
A technology called Blockchain has the potential to transform the future of payments in the banking sector – it may even transform way we cast and count our votes in the 2020 General Election.
Financial observers have been waiting for the next big thing for a while now. Mobile payments has failed to catch the imagination of consumers, despite the presence of heavyweights like Google with Google Wallet and Apple with ApplePay, its not seeing the level of growth that the hype suggested. Maybe crypto-currency will.
Visa meets the future
Visa’s Europe Collab launch start-up innovation hubs in London and Israel are there to spot and engage with Europe’s top financial technology entrepreneurs, as the UK is now Europe’s fastest growing region for fintech with over 135,000 employees. Deal-volume, mostly out of London, has been growing at an annualized rate of around 74% since 2008, compared with 27% globally, and 13% in Silicon Valley, according to Accenture.
Speakers at Visa’s London event included leading monetary academic Garrick Hileman from the LSE, Hendrik Kleinsmiede of Visa Europe Collab one of Europe’s crypto-currency and Blockchain gurus in the financial services sector and Nicolas Cary, co-founder of Blockchain, one of the world’s best known BitCoin wallet company.
According to Garrick Hileman of the LSE, “BitCoin is in a battle with more than 600 crypto-currencies. The governance structure in Europe and the US surrounding BitCoin may be an inhibitor to expansion for crypto-currencies whilst it may flourish in fertile territories like Sub Saharan Africa with over 50% of BitCoin mining being provided by China.”
The UK is leading the way
Sian Jones of COINsult feels “The UK is the only jurisdiction that is coming out with a holistic approach to digital currencies regulation.”
While according to Hendrik Kleinsmiede of Visa Europe Collab, “The level of investment in crypto-currencies is at an unprecedented high – to date over $667million. If you compare 2014 to 1995 at the beginning of the dotcom boom, there’s now more money being invested in crypto-currency than there was in dotcom.”
Will the Banks jump in?
Nick Cary of Blockchain noted “Banks are being exceedingly cautious but by summer there should be new policies in place to make it easier for BitCoin companies to operate in Europe and the US.
The US is seeking a compliance pathway for Bitcoin start-ups, with New York setting the future as the model for regulation of Bitcoin “banks.”
Great news, but let’s not forget what became of the dotcom boom…
According to the Office of National Statistics & Forbes – 2.8 million of the UK population now work from home regularly, alongside 1 in 5 Americans. This makes it’s one of the fastest growing workplace trends.
The problem can sometimes be convincing your boss its right for the company – and you.
The team at London & Zurich have published an interactive guide on how office-workers can convince their boss to let them work from home, remotely in their dream location, or adopt a flexible working scheme. It features 26 articles, videos & apps on how to make sure you still get things done, all wrapped up in one, very cool infographic. Check it out here.
Ever heard of NFC, ever used Google Wallet at the cash-out?
No, neither have most people. But how about this?
This may actually be the first mobile payments system that actually works. Check this out.
You know, looking back I guess we’ve all come a long way over the last decade. Few could have imagined the rise of the Internet-driven business.
The dot-com bubble didn’t slow the launch of new devices and faster connectivity. Most of my work was in infrastructure design – data centres and desktops. Corporates saw the Internet as something to be tightly controlled and restricted – filtered out of existence. Barclays had 256Mb in 2003. In total.
Autumn 2011 has been a really interesting time for banking. I mean new banking, not that tired old high street of ours.
MovenBank’s appeared, Zopa’s broken more records, Wonga’s won more awards and a new social P2P player’s launching, CivilisedMoney.
It generated quite a lot of Twitter traffic with people on digital banking’s front-line, like banking innovators, Darren G and Aden Davies. And raised one key question.
Online or on high street – can a click ever replace a footstep?
I mean, there are some great web browsers – and they’re all free, for Pete’s sake. Gaming calls for the latest technology. People happily buy that, don’t they?
But for some reason, we have to placate the stupid and design sites like its 1999. Web designers are told that they must maintain full compatibility with everything. Not just for browsers maybe a version behind, but stuff from another age.
Well, I think it’s time we ask the question. Should we push or just follow?
You know, technology works when it helps you do things you need to do easier. But its really cool when it lets you do the things you like to do better!
You basketball fans will know that the European Championships are currently on. There’s an app for that – and here it is… Its a really well designed app for iPhone and will be the go-to app for hoop fans. And at $1.99, if you don’t want to miss a game, you shouldn’t miss this.
The app’s of course available in the App Store right now. So why not give it a try? Makes a change to talk about this rather than the Euro as a basket case!
How come most companies think having PowerPoint more important than CRM? CRM comes last, after email, office productivity and accounting. Everybody knows, we’re told often enough, that looking after customers is vital. But as a process, many companies don’t see it as that important.
In fact, most companies don’t think about managing the relationship with their customers until something goes wrong and they find they can’t.
Ironic, really. When you consider that CRM will start to deliver benefits instantly, the moment you roll it out to your users. Let’s take a look…
NFC on phones is being pushed hard – the Next Big Thing for affluent spenders. Sure, it makes sense at first. A cool way to pay. But… Why not – we’ve this gadget-laden generation. Out to impress. They’ll love NFC. Well, maybe they won’t even think about it.
How can I say this. It flies in the face of everything the marketers are saying to us. But that’s the thing about marketers. They can sometimes miss the obvious…
Email. Its been around for over 40 years. And up there as our No 1 business tool. But things could be about to get very interesting in Inbox world.
As they say on Wall Street, what follows are some forward-looking statements. Therefore take this as my personal view, as the outcome is far from certain.
Three events have got me thinking about what might happen. Let’s set the scene. And taking the stage are RIM, Microsoft, VMWare, Zimbra and SalesForce…
OK, regular readers will know I’m not buying the hype around SmartPhone NFC. This is for a number of reasons and none of which are about it being new. I’ve talked about security, why quick isn’t a good reason, but that’s not everything. The real show-stopper to me is market reach. NFC just won’t fit the market.
Every other payment system before NFC reached its market cheaply and quickly. Now I’m going to show just how far NFC will fall short. Time to wake up…
I love it when I come across great ideas. Like game changing, eureka moments. But it frustrates me when solutions appear for problems that don’t exist. Take NFC payment systems, for example. A clever use of the tech in our pockets. But who said we had a problem at the cash-out?
We, the consumers don’t. The retailers like the short delay as they get to up-sell. Maybe its the payment system providers who have a problem. Like card fraud?
Here’s the crazy thing about NFC. The security is actually weaker. Much weaker. NFC presents a far higher risk profile than any other system…