I’ve just returned from Northern Ireland, having spent time in Belfast and took a tour around the provence to witness first hand the state of the politics there today.
Sure, the burnt-out cars of the Troubled-time are gone, I was able to walk where I chose, but the markers for the fault lines are clear for all to see. They hang from lamp-posts, from flagpoles attached to the front of houses and emblazoned on the end-walls of streets everywhere. I’m talking about Union Jacks and Ulster Unionist flags – and a significant number of Loyalist battle flags, too.
The UK media’s not too keen to talk about the flags. With investment money flowing in now, Belfast is thriving. An optimistic young city that’s a joy to spend time in. But within a mile of the centre, even around the corner from the majestic, globally recognised Queens University, teeming with it’s wonderful mix of accents and language from laughing foreign students, the symbols of sectarianism abound.
So why with all this new-found prosperity are the old sectarian feelings still so prevalent – why does the air have a sense of a unease, like a coiled spring or smoundering tinderbox?
Brexit – the fear of betrayal
Look beyond the Loyalist Crumlin and Shankill and you’ll come upon the Nationalist strongholds of The Falls. Forbidding steel gates stand ready to fall across the centre of the area in the event of unrest and ironically, they rest open against The Peace Wall. Its intention was noble but its now covered with political propaganda of the Marxist left, stoking the unrest and providing an insight into where the nationalist IRA, INLA, New IRA and Sinn Féin’s allegiances lie. Here you see Palestinian, Jihadist, Catalonian and Venezuelan images. The clear expression of “our republic” and talk of British occupation.
The Irish government in Dublin has long held links to the PLO and a few seconds research will reveal the extent of Sinn Féin’s long-held anti-semitism. Given that legacy, the murals should surprise no one.
On the Loyalist side of the gates, bold murals celebrate the historic British alliance and army connections, along with memorials to fallen Loyalist fighters. But I didn’t expect to see Israeli messages of solidarity for the Unionists, along with one in support of the Polish, recalling the contribution of the RAF’s Polish Squadron in the Second World War.
battlelines drawn anew?
Later that day, sipping my expresso back in the shabby-chiq cosmopolitan surroundings of the Cathedral Quarter, I reflected on what I’d seen. I imagined a land forfeited in the name of some ill-conceived accord with the EU that established a unified Ireland lazily justified by its majority Remain vote in the 2016 Referendum.
I remembered the IRA’s old alliance with Gaddafi’s Libya. Of course, that’s now gone. But something far more sinister has stepped in to fill that void. A pact between our more modern arab enemies.
I thought about a Marxist-driven land-grab by an army of criminals and terrorists armed by Hezbollah, Hamas or Iran, the spectre of roadside IED’s and suicide vests faced off by beleaguered Loyalists. What part might Israel play, could we see our very own Middle East-style conflict, a ferry or shuttle flight away. Just as the Troubles decided no winners, Ireland could become our new Afghanistan.
Whatever happens, we cannot – we dare not – betray this noble and loyal union. We can’t forget that these are proud British people, no matter what concessions the EU push us to accept in return for our own independence.
presenting biomaterials, 2019 Material of the Year
Greater London, United Kingdom, 2019-09-02 –
Every year, the London Design Fair showcases how innovative materials can be used in everyday things. Last year, it was recycled plastics, this year is the turn of biomaterials as Material of the Year.
Biomaterials or bio-based materials are often derived from agriculture. The products are harvested in an often complex yet sustainable process. The Fair is showing examples of work by four innovative environmental designers under the heading of Second Yield.
Jimmy MacDonald, the Fair’s Founder and Director explains: ‘The sheer volume of waste being repurposed and the potential volume these new materials can be used at, makes them extremely important and something we want to celebrate at the Fair.’
The Designers and inventors
Material: corn husks
Totomoxtle is a new veneer material made with the husks of local Mexican corn. A key part of traditional Mexican food, the local native corns range in colour, from wonderfully deep purples to soft yellow creams. Sadly, globalisation is threatening native varieties of Mexican corn. The only real hope of saving local species lies with Mexico’s indigenous people, who plant the corn in a traditional way. Working with the Tehuixtla community in the Mexican state of Puebla, Totomoxtle is helping local businesses and farmers to diversify to generate new income.
As a product and material designer, Fernando works between Mexico and London and has been engaged in this work since 2016. He takes the husks, often considered waste and transforms it into products that echoe the historic local culture, something that is key for him.
Material: potato waste
Co-founded by Rowan Minkley and Rob Nicoll, Chip[s] Board is an innovative biomaterial company that turns food waste into high-value materials. McCain, the world’s largest manufacturer of frozen potato products supports a number of sustainability projects is supplying Chip[s] Board with its raw materials. Chip[s] Board has several products using potato waste, including Parblex™ Plastics, a translucent pure or fibre reinforced bioplastics that can be used in fashion and interior design. Chip[s] Board has won several national and international grants and competitions and has attracted attention from global brands. The company is planning to scale up to be a provider of responsible alternatives, a step closer to replacing toxic polluting plastics.
Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven
Material: palm leaves
Based in the Netherlands, Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven is a product design studio with a difference: Tjeerd Veenhoven designs value chains, from initial production to the overall consumer experience.
The areca palm tree of Southern India produces areca betel nuts used in Indian cuisine. The trees shed around 80 million square meters of beautiful, unused palm leaves every year. Tjeerd Veenhoven is putting the leaves to use. With just simple, natural ingredients and processes, he’s dried and permanently softened the brittle palm leaf, giving it a leather-like quality. Known as PalmLeather, this project began 2010 and has been growing ever since.
Tjeerd has set up several artisan factories in India, the Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka making various PalmLeather and derivative products, such as this unique PalmLeather interior rug using strips placed vertically, creating beautifully individual results.
Materials: hemp, tobacco and pomace
High Society was founded in 2015 by Johannes Kiniger and Giulia Farencena Casaro, located in the heart of the Dolomite Mountains in northern Italy. The company compression-moulds plant-based lighting from post-industrial waste including hemp leftovers, pomace, the pulpy residue left after after wine production, and discarded leaves and stalks from tobacco cultivation. Each light sold supports anti-drug dependency initiatives, working with Forum Prävention in Bolzano, north-east Italy.
High Society produces three lamp variations, the Highlight Hemp pendant, usings industrial hemp leftovers, Highlight Wine pendant, using pomace and the Highlight Tobacco pendant, leaves and stalks discarded during Venezian tobacco cultivation. Each unique lamp variation has an added bio-based binder and a natural wax coating providing a shiny surface protecting the lamp from humidity. Minimal and elegant, the pendants are ideal for both commercial and residential use.
Information and images supplied by V2com
I wonder how long it will be until the Rebel Alliance of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, Jo Swinson’s Libdems and Ian Ashford’s SNP realise the triple-irony of what they’ve done?
The first irony is that their grab for power has left them in voters minds with only a cigarette paper of difference between each of the three parties. The electorate won’t have a clear choice, leaving the alliance parties vulnerable in terms of vote share.
The second irony is the trick that brought them victory is the same trick that could destroy them. They exploited a weakened Tory party’s fragile majority for their power grab. If they ever get round to a general election, each party will have to stand and face the voters alone.
That exposes them to a populist swing in support of the bruised and mistreated Tories, along with a powerful push towards the full-fat leave policy of the Brexit Party. So with their “partners” standing against them, only a fifth of any voting share will be theirs. As we’ve seen, there is no policy daylight between any of them, leaving voters with no clear differentiator between the alliance parties. Plaid Cymru are the most exposed as Wales voted as a nation (53% – 47%) to leave the EU.
Crucially, voters have little reason to vote for this Rebel Alliance, given that they have made it perfectly clear they won’t honour voter’s wishes, so who would want to vote for any of them – who wants to see their vote ignored?
But the final irony is this. And it’s the key one. Should any of this evil trinity see the light, break free and try to differentiate themselves to crawl out of their cesspit of rancid coalition, the others will simply team up against them to bring them down. If it’s worked against the mighty Tory party, bringing down each other with the same tactics will be easy.
the Scottish perspective
And what of Scotland? The SNP will be up against a Conservative party that has its integrity intact. The SNP will have to break ranks with the LIbDems to gain share in its homeland and Labour will want to assert itself in Scotland. The LibDems will appeal to Remain-loving Scots who don’t want to break up the Union.
On that basis, it’s hard to see the SNP gaining any share – far more likely to see them losing ground.
The nuclear option this junta has deployed could contaminate British politics for a very long time. So don’t give up your day-job, comrades…
Savour your victory, you modern day politburo, you may find the damage you’ve done to British democracy could take a generation to heal – if ever.
OK. I’ll admit it. I’m not a keyboard player. In fact, I’m not that good a guitarist, if truth be told. But I can get by and getting better by creating music with Apple’s Garageband on my iMac. And I’m discovering how my music sounds so much better, more complete, with other instruments around me. But playing along to backing tracks or even with Garageband’s well constructed samples is – well – a bit like karaoke.
What I want to do is be able to add those other orchestral voices myself. Add a little piano, maybe a Hammond, drums, bass, strings, synth. perhaps even some vocal samples. But here’s the thing. There’s no way I could play all that stuff – even assuming I could get those intruments into my little studio. What I could easily accomodate is the A49 Komplete Kontrol MIDI keyboard from Native Instruments.
This is a professional-standard keyboard that features 49 semi-weighted, touch responsive, high quality keys and two rotary expression wheels. It has no internal intelligence itself; you have to load software on your PC, MacBook or iMac and plug in a USB cable to drive it all. What you then get is more than your wildest musical dreams. You literally have a complete orchestra at your fingertips.
If you’re already a keyboard player, you’ll feel right at home instantly. The plugins are sampled from real instruments in proper studio sessions and are astonishingly convincing. They’re the company’s emerging NKS standard offerings. True HD and completely realistic. I spent a lot of time as a roadie with a band that featured a Hammond and the Vintage Organs Hammond presets just blew me away. It even has a Leslie and great samples of valve amps and effects!
OK, but as I said, I’m no Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman or even Elton John. But this is where Native Instruments have nailed it. You can map the keyboard to play chords in whatever key you set. If you still need help, it will actually map all the black or white keys so you can’t play an out-of-key note at all.
So what you have is an instrument any competent keyboard player can live with right away. For someone like me, the idea that you can spend an hour or so trying stuff then lay down a convincing track onto Garageband or a similar DAW is very appealing. If you’re feeling really lazy you can just go full bluff mode and map the can’t-play- it-wrong setting. Well, maybe not.
Given that even the most basic cheap and cheerful useful synth will set you back £400, with this, you get something a concert-hall-away better for £149. NI even throw in some presets – a lot of plugins – and then offer you a whacking discount on more for a huge discount on NI’s already insanely competitive prices.
The keyboard “dashboard” features a range of switches which become active depending on the preset you have selected. Selection is managed by a multi-action joystick-style control knob and there is a tiny, yet really useful display onboard to show what you selected.
The keyboard can control the record, stop, play and other functions of your computer’s DAW – I use Garageband but any Pro-Tools, Live or other DAW app will work just fine.
Apart from the USB lead, which powers the keyboard, you get a TRS-type expression/sustain pedal socket and a Kensington-type security point. As I said, its pretty well complete – or rather Komplete.
To give you an idea, just check out the video…
what about the quality?
I bet you’re thinking this is some Chinese start-up that you’ll never hear of again in a couple of years. And that’s where you’d be so wrong. Native Instruments is a professional German company. They design all the hardware there, write the software and record all the samples. That must cost a lot of money. Of course, like the vast majority of manufacturers, they have the hardware built in China. But even that’s pure class.
The A49 site midway between the smaller A21 and the concert size A61. Each differ only in the number of keys, all the other features and controls are on each version.
I love this keyboard. It takes me to places I never dreamt I would go. I’m learning as well as making music. Try one. It will blow your mind.
Way back when in the 80’s Japan was one of those bands that transcended genres. Not rock, punk or progessive. Certainly not pop. But there just wasn’t a category for thoughtful, complex, internationally influenced music. Who can forget Sylvian’s collaboration with Ryuichi Sakamoto on Forbidden Colours?
Japan, the band are long gone, but the individual members were talented enough to all stand on their own merits and offer their own style and value. David Sylvian has been the most prolific; I won’t bore you with his long discography – you can google that if you like, but this time I’m talking about Japan’s ex-drummer, Steve Jansen.
Jansen has released a couple of albums under his own name, but this is a new collaboration with a group of internationally renowned musicians in a new band called Exit North. While everyone contributes deeply to this fine piece of music, the notable player has to be Thomas Feiner. He has the most astonishingly expressive and powerful voice that I have ever heard.
Feiner first featured on Steve Jansen’s seminal triple album Slope. His contribution on that was so powerful, his songs almost stood apart worthy of an album in themselves; even given the magnificent Playground Martyrs featuring former bandmate David Sylvian on vocals, which was a truly beautiful if dissapointingly short track.
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.
Take a look around you. Notice how you’re seeing an awful lot of people walking round wearing headphones?
Maybe you’ve got a big collection of CD’s and discovered no one seems to be selling high quality CD players and transports any more. That’s because we’re in the middle of the next digital revolution. It started with CD way back in the eighties. If you listened to the marketing hype instead of the music, you’d have believed CD was the new age – the future of music. Ten minutes of comparison with the vinyl it was replacing would have told you otherwise.
But the marketing men dragged the hifi manufacturers out of their analogue world and into the bright LEDs of digital. It was a triumph of convenience over quality. But it was never going to last. There had to be something better than that compressed, clinical, plastic sound. And its arrived. Its called Digital Streaming.
What is Digital Streaming?
Digital Streaming is about serving digitally-stored music, converting it and sending it to your computer or handheld device, such as a smartphone or tablet or to your hifi. Where its stored though isn’t important; its getting it ready to be listened to it that’s the tricky part. The music can be streamed from online services like Spotify, Tidal, or Apple’s new incarnation of iTunes, now called Apple Music.
But maybe you’d prefer to buy downloads from the many excellent new sites like HDTracks or if you’re not fussy about quality, even Amazon and keep your music local on a hard drive or SSD – or even a USB memory stick. You can do that too.
Digital music can offer simple, low quality MP3 files up to top original studio quality content – sometimes direct from the studio master tapes – stored in FLAC format offering the potential to hear music just as the artists themselves did when they recorded it. Yes, it really can be that good.
Re-engineer your CD collection
All this sounds great, you may be thinking, but many people have made a huge investment in CDs over the years. Digital Streaming is the solution for this, too. By ripping – a process where a CD or other musical format is converted to a digital music file – all the music you know and love can be replayed as digital streaming media. It can also be “upscaled”, a process where hidden musical detail can often be recovered to let you hear more from your old music. The good news is that converting your old music this way needn’t cost you a penny. You probably already have the tools to hand already.
Once you have your music files stored, you’ll need a way to move it around. A decent broadband or mobile connection (3G, 4G), a home wifi or Ethernet network will do. Now, you need the right steaming devices and you’re ready to listen to music like you’ve never heard it before – or at least, approaching how it used to sound on vinyl. OK, I accept that some may say vinyl will never be beaten – but that’s a whole different topic!
spark kickstarts its new ear buds product on KickStarter
Detroit, USA — Since its crowdfunding campaign launched last month, Spark has had a lot of interest – and raised a lot of money – for its first product: Spark Headphones. Spark’s cool glowing earbuds are aimed at runners and cyclists wanting greater visability while out at night. Both runners and walkers are excited about the glow headphones, which offer a unique appearance that can help them be safer on the road even when they are unable to hear their surroundings while listening to music.
A few more weeks (June 2017) remain for the crowdfunding campaign, and the company is hopeful that it will meet its goal.
“We’re thankful for the support we’ve received so far and we look forward to more support,” said the founder of Spark. “Spark Headphones were designed in order to bring a one-of-a-kind music experience to listeners.”
Spark boasts originality in design and the company’s new headphones possess a patented technology in which the headphones flash with the rhythm of the music. Made with luminescence wires, the technology offers a gentle glowing light without giving off harmful electromagnetic radiation.
Owners of the new earbuds may set them to their preferred lighting mode at any moment. Three settings are available: glowing, flashing and regular non-glow mode. Both the glowing and flashing settings may be used for up to 5 hours before the headphones need to be recharged, while the traditional non-glow setting does not require battery usage. The flashing laser light setting allows the light to glow to the rhythm of the music being played. The finished product offers music listeners a way to express themselves.
The smart headphones also include all of the features that are expected in modern headphones. With a built-in HD microphone and control on the wire, the user can answer phone calls and experience a clear conversation. The product’s intuitive controls also allow the music listener to change the volume and switch songs. Comfort and stability were considered in the design of the new product, as well. This combined with the ability to deliver exceptional sound, makes the Spark Headphones an up-and-coming accessory for runners and music listeners.
Want to support this great new product?
Head over to Spark’s crowdfunding campaign on KickStarter. Not only will you be supporting innovation, but you also be in line for steep discounts on the headphones themselves and cool company gear. Back the campaign and you’ll be among the first to own a pair of the glowing product.
About Spark Headphones
Spark launches its first product in 2017: Spark Headphones. With great originality in design and materials, the company strives to deliver fashionable headphones, which offer an awesome experience.Visit Spark Headphones to learn more…
Electric bikes, electric cars. But not a plane, surely?
Well, aviation giant Airbus thought the idea had wings. It actually got the project off the ground as long ago as 2014 with a prototype called e-Fan. It was designed to be an ultra-quiet, environmentally-friendly trainer aircraft with zero emissions and sounded like a great idea.
A plane was built and it flew. Initials trials were promising, but the electric engine technology was not scaleable to makes bigger aircraft, so it was simply not viable as a flying platform.
Aviation is a very competitive industry and the designs they come up with have to be grounded on a sound, commerce footing as they’re often part of a strategy often lasting 20 years or more. It seems that despite its promise, eFan was not to be and the innovative project was shuttered in 2017.
There was some serious technology at work here. Maybe a taste of the future. Such a pity it never took off commercially. Go take a look at this video of E-Fan, the electric plane project by Airbus Group Innovations.
Maybe along with flying cars, we’ll see it take off again one day…
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.
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…
SanDisk, one of the world’s biggest and certainly one of the most innovative memory companies has released a memory stick with a 512Gb – that’s half a terabyte – capacity. Great you might say, but do you need it. Seriously, do you?
This memory arms race seems to be running parallel to the other big push at the moment. Cloud storage and connectivity. But herein lies the problem. While the per-Gb price of this card may be fairly low, the purchase price will actually be in the high-hundreds of pounds. That means its a premium purchase and the kind of person buying it will almost certainly have a premium camera to match. Most of which now feature wifi connectivity to allow uploading images directly and as soon as they’re taken. So in effect, there is no need to store so much stuff locally.
Starting a new business?
You’ll know that the domain name you choose can make or break it. You’ll also realise the best ones seem hard to find. Well don’t worry. I might have what you’re looking for.
Go take a look at the domains that zenscape has for sale. Just click here!
Beijing, China – We’re used to seeing China produce hardware for Western big-hitters like Apple and Google, but more and more we’re seeing innovative designs coming from this Eastern technology powerhouse as well.
Last year, tiny Chinese start-up One Plus produced a world beating phone at a quality and price point to make Cupertino weep. Now nubia, a high-end Android smart phone manufacturer, unveiled its flagship 2015 device today in the US, the nubia Z9 – a quantum leap forward in borderless styling and ease of use for Android smartphones.
Its every new parent’s nightmare. A baby who won’t stop crying. There must be a reason, but its lost on new parents. If only someone could tell them what was causing their little loved one distress.
This was something one particular father faced when his newborn baby couldn’t be consoled. He decided to do something about it. He came up with Smartnanny, an adaptive baby basket that soothes babies and learns to respond to their crying…
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 beat 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 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’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.”
UK 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.”
Are the Banks ready`/
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…
If you’re one of those people who uses a workstation rather than a notebook, you may have noticed despite the quality of your display, your eyes feel a little tired – particularly when working early in the day, later in the evenings or when the ambient light is changing.
That’s because the system that lights up your monitor – called the backlight – flickers as it adjusts to the light within the room. That causes the ciliary muscle in your eye to overwork, as it tries to compensate for this nearly imperceptible flicker.
So, your eyes feel tired, you actually squint at your screen (making you look tired) and you can even walk away with a headache. Not good at all.
Well, BenQ, the Dutch based monitor manufacturer has used its vast research facilities and experience in the medical sector to come up with a new range of displays designed to avoid this. The Senseye Eye-Care range…
With all the bad news coming out of the Middle East at the moment, its good to report about something great happening in this sector – its a pity its not being talked about more in the current climate.
Israel – the start up nation
Israel’s often dubbed the start-up nation because of its unique tech ecosystem. But tech-savvy Israeli-Arabs have struggled to compete with Tel Aviv’s unique tech scene, because of the geographic distance from the centre of the country, limited funding, restricted social network access and by not being allowed to serve in the army, which funds a lot of technical research.
But despite these barriers, a vibrant tech cluster is emerging in the Arab community, centred around Nazareth. The birthplace of Jesus is also an Arab town where Muslims and Christians live side by side. Its surrounding neighbourhoods are now establishing a reputation as the hub of Arab entrepreneurship and innovation in Israel.
Coming to the UK
Organised by the UK Israel Tech Hub at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, a delegation of Israeli-Arab entrepreneurs is meeting the UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Sajid Javid MP, in London today, (2nd December, 2015) as part of a three-day tech trip to talk to some of the capital’s most innovative technology companies and services. Israel’s seeded 7,000 start-ups in the past decade, more than any other country outside the US. But the nation’s Arab minority faces many obstacles within this thriving sector.
The UK Israel Tech Hub at the British Embassy in Tel Aviv is a public-private initiative investing in Israeli-Arab rising-stars, helping them develop their skills and foster business relationships abroad. By encouraging them to set the UK as their destination to grow and expand globally and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs, who’ll have a better chance of becoming part of the Israeli economic mainstream.
Tablet growth is showing no sign of slowing, with reports predicting that sales of the devices are set to grow another 25% in 2015 – that’s an estimated 321m units expected to fly off the shelves in a year. For the greatest challenge is keeping your digital world powered up. Very often battery life is a major factor in device choice. So this is a greta time to launch something to help. So take a look at this.
Here’s MOAB – Mother Of All Batteries, ready to keep your juices flowing.
The MOAB is a dynamic new portable charging device that can charge up to four USB mobile devices at once – making it a must-have for all tablet users that rely on their device to navigate everyday life. Plug-and-play functionality and a lightweight construction weighing in at just 1.65lbs mean that the MOAB has become the key accessory for all tablet users hoping to get a little more power from their device.
Now, everyone loves the cool look of the Apple keyboard. It just oozes class and compared to its PC equivalent, well, its just in a different league.
But its not just designers and other creative types who feel the Apple love. What if you’re a big league number cruncher and you’re there, stuck with the standard wireless keyboard that’s missing the numeric keypad?
That top row over the alpha keys just isn’t going to cut it, or handle your numeric workflow. Fear not. Help is at hand in the shape of a cool add-on from US-based NewerTech.
NewerTech asked accounting professionals, traders, financial analysts, programmers, students and teachers what they’d like to see in an expanded keyboard and this is what they came up with.
The keyboard attaches to Mac Keyboards with a simple bracket, which is included and requires no tools or techie knowledge to fit, simpluy pairing through Bluetooth. So who is NewerTech?
Here’s a cool new website for the fashion cognoscenti. Secret d’or launches this month, designed to offer digital shoppers cutting edge fashion inspiration as well as access to the world’s most coveted new designers and brands. Luxurious, curated and highly desirable, Secret d’Or is a new frontier for the world of online fashion. Featuring collections from over 70 designers, the platform is for fashion forward individuals with a taste for the finer things in life.
Secret d’or offers unique pieces which are worlds away from the usual, conventional high street brands and off-the-shelf, push, pack and pack collections. Instead, Secret d’Or spotlights independent labels to connect forward thinking fashionistas with a top drawer choice of contemporary designers.
Camilla Jerath, Secret d’Or founder said, “In a world of fast fashion there is a new found respect for independent creatives who offer innovative products made with exceptional quality. We have created a curated platform to bring fresh and stylish independent brands to fashion forward men and women who crave unique and limited edition pieces. Take our Portamento shoes for example. Rather than generic designs, our collection is handmade in Italy using only the finest 100% genuine leather.”
In a time when political correctness and ticked boxes dominate business, its great to see credit going to someone who truly deserves it.
Harriet Green, the dynamic CEO of the now re-vitalised Thomas Cook holiday group has been recognised with a prestigious Veuve Clicquot Business Woman award.
Harriet became CEO in July 2012 – after having the courage to cold-call the Company’s chairman. Just 12 months later, she’d designed and launched a bold strategy that focussed on digital leadership, new product innovation and placing customers at the very heart of the business. In the last year, the business refinanced and unified its many brands under the new ‘Sunny Heart’ umbrella, with the Group’s 27,000 employees working as one global team across 80 countries to deliver the transformation. Today, the share price has risen around 950%. An incredible achievement.
“Madame Clicquot transformed her family business through belief, innovation, and a ‘can do’ attitude, which are as relevant today as they were then, and I’m honoured to accept the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award on behalf of everyone at Thomas Cook as we continue to transform our business, just like Madame Clicquot did, through innovation, belief and our ‘can do’ attitude,” said Harriet.
“Madame Clicquot was truly one of the first real businesswomen of our age. I’ve long admired her spirit, courage, and determination. She and the original Mr Thomas Cook were of the same generation and together they created two amazingly powerful brands, whose heritage and promise clearly live on today – over 170 years later.”
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.
Sharp-eyed users may have noticed that web design trends have gone a little flat recently. Blame Apple – they started it with a radical new look for the iPhone and iPad with iOS-7.
Lloyds Banking Group is the latest shady bank to receive a slap on the wrist from the FCA. In fact, the $45 Million fine meted out for gross financial mis-selling is the biggest to date. But it won’t change things one little bit. Why do I say this?