Fintech for Breakfast (CSFI, September 2019)

Last week I went to the CSFI breakfast event and it was great. I’ve been to a CSFI event before (I was one of the panellists), but it was a different format back then.

Last week we went through a document of web links and discussed each one. It was much more interesting than it sounds. Jemima Kelly, the FT journalist who wrote many of those articles was one of the panellists.

Facebook Libra

What’s in it for anyone except for Facebook? (Left unanswered but with some good points made:

  1. It could be extremely disruptive and put massive pressure on the big currencies, making them look volatile.
  2. Governments will try to squash it – and if they do, Facebook might use this as an opportunity to show that it’s not evil.
  3. Facebook needs to find another revenue stream other than marketing, this might be the first.
  4. It’s simply/ only an ETF on Fiat currencies).

Continue reading Fintech for Breakfast (CSFI, September 2019)

Countering fast retail

Bicycle shop with search bar
A bicycle shop with search bar

I was working on a piece of work recently with a colleague about the retail industry. Our thinking was moving into fast fashion, or more like “fast retail” – a made up term describing the sales of low-cost goods increasingly quickly, probably through subscription channels.

We started to consider the counter this trend, but the following piece was dropped. I recently picked it up again when I saw an article about UK retail sales.

Countering fast retail

The Guardian article “Charity shop and antique purchases drive up UK retail sales” is interesting because it’s such a counter balance to the constant product advertising and marketing culture we live in: “Buy more”, “buy it cheaper”, “buy the latest version”, etc. etc.

There’s usually a counterculture that either stops, or prolongs, a trend. With retail sales it might be a combination of Minimalism, the book and Netflix documentary; and Marie Kondo or KonMari – her process of tidying up to create joy. (If that sentence looks peculiar, then watch one of the programmes to get the picture).

Minimalism and Marie Kondo both recommend buying fewer high-quality goods rather than lots of poor-quality goods.

Maybe this explains the increase in charity shop purchases. In the Guardian article, Paul Dales, chief UK economist at Capital Economics, said “…households still have the ability to spend and remain the strongest part of the economy.” In other words, people are choosing to go into charity shops over buying brand new goods. Continue reading Countering fast retail

Why Netflix and Amazon (probably) don’t mind users sharing passwords

It’s been an interesting week at Netflix, with US subscribers falling by 120,000.

Another interesting piece of Netflix news has been about password sharing. According to analysts MoffettNathanson, 14% of Netflix subscribers share their password, and only 6% share their Amazon password to access Prime video.

The reason why password sharing on Amazon Prime is much lower than Netflix is probably because it’s easy for a friend to purchase an Amazon product once you give them your password. Possibly just as undesirable – it’s straightforward for people to review purchases on your account once you have given them your password!

I’ve been asked a few times this week, why Netflix and Amazon don’t clamp down on password sharing. I think the answer lies with a comment from Spotify.

Think of those Netflix users who are using someone else’s password as ‘freemium’ subscribers. Spotify encourages freemium (non-paying, or trial) accounts to learn “that music is an important part of their life worth paying for”. And consider the data from those listeners, how Spotify can “learn from the biggest possible group of music fans in the world.”

Freemium places a user on the path to a sales conversion. It’s a far better path than traditional or digital marketing channels. When people share a password, it shares the value of the product, that might want to make them ultimately go and buy the product.

Netflix has a vastly different strategy to Spotify though. Netflix is testing the maximum price that users are willing to pay for the service. It recently increased the monthly subscription cost in the US from $11 to $13. Continue reading Why Netflix and Amazon (probably) don’t mind users sharing passwords

Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends Report

Mary Meeker’s latest annual Internet trends report has been released, and it’s as insightful as always.

New sections for this year include:

  • A new section on the ethics of data usage and regulation
  • Interesting sections on healthcare (expenditure by country, and their focus on preventable deaths); and China (the move from manufacturing, and the totally different user experiences, such as live streaming for ecommerce)
  • New section on education – US university enrolments falling, with online increasing

Here are my highlights (aka abbreviated research notes):

  • Slide 25: [USA-based] advertising purchasing is moving to Amazon/ Twitter/ Pinterest (basically, moving from Facebook or Google at a quicker amount than they are growing)
  • Slide 28 & 29: Balancing Customer acquisition cost with Life Time Value!!
  • Slide 32: Drive conversion from freemium (Spotify & Zoom), rather than seeking new customers
  • #51: Echo devices doubled last year to 47M. There are now 90,000+ skills for Alexa. Why? How are they promoted?

Continue reading Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends Report

How to use legacy systems to drive innovation in insurance

I was on a webinar panel earlier today discussing legacy systems and their role in innovation in the insurance industry.

The premise was simple. Given the hype around digital you might be excused for thinking that you need to re-platform everything, rip out what you currently have – and start again – to remain relevant in the modern insurance market.

Especially given the threat from fleet-of-feet start-ups operating with a clean piece of paper and no legacy technology.

But it should not be forgotten that as a legacy organisation you have a number of things that start-ups would love to have. Including data and customers, and that is just for starters.

Here are some of my notes from the webinar. You can also watch the full feature length video with your family tonight. Continue reading How to use legacy systems to drive innovation in insurance

Remarkable! How Facebook will reduce its reliance on advertising revenue

Facebook investors are going to like this announcement

Facebook has announced the most exciting new product of all the recent FAANG press releases. From “Sign In With Apple” to Uber’s IPO, this one beats them all.

Until now, Facebook has been reliant on advertising spend. In Q4 2018, Facebook’s advertising revenue was $16.6bn, of a total revenue $16.9bn.

Facebook has always received poor press coverage over its collection, harvesting and commercialisation of our data. What’s the best way to avoid this type of brand coverage?

Rebrand.

Enter Calibra. Or at least, Calibra will enter next year.

Continue reading Remarkable! How Facebook will reduce its reliance on advertising revenue

UK media usage 2019 – still fascinated with TV

The latest Ofcom media report has been released, and here are some of the highlights:

  • On the BBC revenue: 20% of people don’t know how BBC TV is funded, over a third of people don’t know how the BBC website is funded, and almost half don’t know how BBC iPlayer is funded.
  • Almost a half of people don’t know how search engines make money, and 56% of people don’t know how YouTube is funded. (Answer: it’s owned by Google and has lots of video ads).
  • Incredibly, 31% of people don’t know how commercial TV is funded. (Answer: Adverts and sometimes subscriptions)
  • The social network unknowns: In socio-economic terms, why do 74% of the AB group have a social media profile, and for DE it’s only 56%? Yet C1 has the highest percentage of social media profiles. Also, “One in seven adults of working age in DE households do not use the internet, and when they do, one in five only go online via a smartphone.

Continue reading UK media usage 2019 – still fascinated with TV

Why the 20% of UK homes that own a voice assistant don’t read the terms and conditions

Alexa prank to set an alarm at 3am
Alexa practical jokes were invented in 2014

Highlights from Richard Watson’s latest Brainmail:

  • In the UK, 5.5 million homes (around 20% of all homes) now possess a voice activated assistant.
  • 20 per cent of 3-5-year-olds now own their own iPad.
  • Google and Facebook have more than a fifth of the world’s advertising spending (they have 50-60 per cent of digital advertising spend).
  • The terms and conditions for Amazon’s Kindle are 73,198 words long and would take around 9 hours to read. I checked this out (link) and the terms are made up from 20 documents, plus the privacy notice.
  • Compared to the 400 deaths per year from terrorism, more Europeans drown in their own bathtubs, and ten times more die from falling down the stairs.

Continue reading Why the 20% of UK homes that own a voice assistant don’t read the terms and conditions

Inside an Amazon Fulfilment Centre

Amazon LTN4 in Dunstable

On Bank Holiday Monday my family and I visited our local Amazon fulfilment centre for a factory tour. It was an eye into the future of robotic automation, and an opportunity to see how something as traditional warehouse stock picking can be reinvented from the ground up.

We visited LTN4, which is in Dunstable (near Luton, Hertfordshire) in the UK. Amazon fulfilment centres are named after their nearest airport codes (Luton airport is less than 10 miles away), and we visited the 4th building on the industrial estate.

From the moment you arrive at the car park, safety is a priority. There are signs every few metres instructing drivers to reverse into spaces.

Inside the warehouse, there are safety signs everywhere. The second priority is security. Employees and visitors need to leave everything except keys, wallet and phone in a locker. There are hundreds of lockers for the 1,200 permanent staff. And there’s even an Amazon locker in the reception area. There are airport-style metal detectors which all staff need to pass through on the way in and out of the warehouse.

Once on the tour, we watched the stock fillers, stock pickers, and two sets of packing teams – for customers who ordered a single item, and on the opposite side of the warehouse, pickers for customers with multiple items. We weren’t allowed to take any photos during the tour, except in the room below. Continue reading Inside an Amazon Fulfilment Centre