A recurring theme throughout MoneyConf was the value proposition that cryptocurrency holds for non-Western consumers living in unstable economies. Due to be launched later this year, Kuvacash is a new cryptocurrency platform that seeks to address the catastrophic effect that hyperinflation has had in Zimbabwe.
Powered by digital currency Dash, the new peer-to-peer payment system enables consumers to exchange US dollars for blockchain tokens, which can then be used to pay for goods or services at any retailer that uses the Kuva app or to send and receive money instantly via a phone number without the need for a bank account.
In addition to the platform itself the brand is instigating wider change by using Kuvacash to re-imagine the transport network in Zimbabwe’s capital city, Harare. With the city’s council vying to ban the city’s highly polluting kombis but failing to propose any viable public transport alternatives, the brand is proposing an emissions-free, aerial cable car that will integrate with its payment system to transport passengers across the capital’s central business district.
First noted by LS:N Global in 2016 when adidas introduced its own network of dark social influencers, consumers are increasingly turning away from platforms such as Facebook where advertising is a constant intrusion and instead using platforms like WhatsApp to communicate with their peers.
Manchester-based digital agency Nothing But Epic has created its new social networking platform, Padoq, in response to this growing interest in more private forms of social media.
Unlike WhatsApp, the community-focused app offers all of the functionality of Facebook groups by allowing organisers to plan an event, start discussions, create polls and share files and photos, as well as allowing for secure payments to be made directly through the platform.
Padoq ensures users’ privacy by allowing them to participate in group conversations anonymously without giving away their phone number or other personal details. Through the platform, Nothing But Epic will help to grow a network of micro-influencers that brands can work with by allowing the groups’ administrators to approve certain adverts that would be of interest to participants in exchange for a share of profits.
3. A financially adept chatbot for banks
While chatbots are increasingly common across sectors, traditional financial institutions have been slow to incorporate this technology into their customer service offering. SpiceFactory, however, hopes to change this with its new white label chatbot developed for banks.
The bot, Cognito, integrates with messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Slack or Kik, allowing customers to seamlessly manage their money across accounts, track expenses and obtain loan guidance at their fingertips. If an issue arises that the bot is unable to answer, however, it will forward the request on to one of the brand’s customer services personnel.
‘To attract new customers, build a more loyal customer base, and drive more incremental revenue, banks need to meet their customers where they already are – in messaging apps,’ says Milos Zikic, CEO of SpiceFactory.
Technology is a valuable customer services offering for banks in their battle to remain relevant. By integrating into the messaging channels that consumers are already engaging with, banks can better connect with people on the go.
Cognito chatbot by Spicefactory
4. Coinhouse schools people in cryptocurrency
Coinhouse Store, France
Coinhouse Store, France
Coinhouse Store, France
Formerly known as La Maison du Bitcoin, Coinhouse’s recent rebranding will enable it to expand beyond its native France to better engage consumers from across Europe with cryptocurrency. In acknowledgement of the wariness that persists among the general public with regard to cryptoinvestment, the company hosts daily workshops and face-to-face consultations to better educate individuals. This bricks-and-mortar location, known as the Coinhouse Store, plays host to discussions such as The Blockchain and its Applications and Crypto-assets: A Technology of the Future?
As part of the rebranding, the company is launching a new online platform with a more user-friendly interface and faster verification process for investing in cryptocurrency. It is also introducing a dedicated research and analysis department, which will produce educational content to better inform consumers on future blockchain technologies.
The volatility of Bitcoin makes it a potentially fruitful investment opportunity, but not a viable payment method. But the introduction of new stable cryptocurrencies that are tied to fiat money, such as Circle’s new USD Coin, do mark a step closer to cryptocurrency’s inclusion within mainstream payment systems.
5. The conversation economy is set to boom during 2018
The so-called conversation economy is set to grow exponentially over the coming year as consumers become more trusting of voice interfaces, according to new research by the information security company Pindrop.
Some 85% of businesses surveyed are planning to use voice-activated assistants like Amazon’s Alexa or Microsoft’s Cortana to communicate with customers in some capacity, up from 28% this year. In the longer term, more than two thirds (67%) of brands are planning to use voice-activated assistants for the majority of their customer interactions. For more on the evolution of voice commerce read our market.
6. Why brands need to pay attention to the world’s unbanked
With the world’s unbanked population totalling around 2bn and many more classed as underbanked – meaning that while they may hold a bank account they engage with it minimally – foresight writer Rhiannon McGregor argues that paying attention to this underserved portion of society will not only have benefits for society at large but also for the brands themselves.
While the Western world may be grappling with consumer-centric legislation like PSD2 and Open Banking, for many consumers in developing countries traditional financial institutions have failed them entirely. Opening a bank account is too costly for people depositing relatively small amounts and most therefore prefer to store their money as cash, which of course poses a greater security risk.
As Jalak Jobanputra, founder of investment company Future/Perfect Ventures, explains remittances are also an extremely expensive financial service that squeeze the poorest sections of society the most. In Africa, for example, remittances are typically levied with a fee of 20%. In light of this a spate of new fintech companies are using the power of technology to create a financial landscape that works for everyone.
Blockchain, for example, is being used to create remittance systems that bypass the banks and therefore fees can be reduced to just 3% per transaction. Considering that an estimated £432bn ($574bn, €432bn) was sent by migrants worldwide to their home countries in 2016 (source: Pew Research Centre), tapping into this market offers huge profit potential for agile start-ups moving into this space.
In an increasingly globalised world forward-thinking brands are using technology to bring about a new global economy that serves the needs of all consumers.