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business e-commerce Podcast product Retail technology

Mastercard: Creating experiences beyond transactions

Mastercard is on a mission to curate and create priceless experiences that money cannot buy, says Raja Rajamannar, CMO of the company, on the latest episode of the Innovators podcast.

While credit cards have historically been about giving consumers speed and convenience, over the past couple of decades they have made strides into becoming an integral part of how consumers live their lives.

“We are a lifestyle brand. Lifestyle doesn’t mean it’s lifestyle for the rich and famous -lifestyle for everyone,” explains Rajamannar. “Everyone deserves to lead a beautiful life and to grow.”

On the one hand there’s the fact the technology is more seamless – gone is the swiping and signing, and in is the tapping and dipping. And if you’re shopping online, digital wallets mean you don’t even need to remember your password.

But on top of that today are perks focusing on giving consumers exclusive access to events, services and treats that help create an even deeper emotional connection between brand and participant.

A few years ago, Mastercard noticed a change in consumer behavior and strategically shifted its advertising spend into experiences. It now hosts over 750 experiences on any given day globally, from recreating the iconic The Rock restaurant from Zanzibar in NYC’s Tribeca, to enabling card holders to shadow Cirque du Soleil cast members in Canada. This strategy is based on addressing key consumer passion points, ranging from music and sports to the environment and philanthropy.

During this episode, Rajamannar explores creating emotional connections, gives advice to brands on how to drive loyalty through having a clear purpose, and reveals an industry first: why the brand is launching a sonic identity.

Listen here: Entale | Spotify |  Apple Podcasts | Android Google Podcasts | Stitcher | RSS

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by the Current Global here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by the Current Global, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more. 

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business Startups

UK fashion entrepreneurs take note: $1.5m up for grabs via WeWork’s Creator Awards

WeWork's Creator Awards will take place in London on September 14
WeWork’s Creator Awards will take place in London on September 14

Co-working business WeWork is offering a grant of over $1.5 million to UK entrepreneurs, SMBs, non-profits and artists as part of its Creator Awards this summer; a global initiative that will hand out a total of $20 million worldwide to innovative projects and the people behind them.

The team is looking to recognise and reward those who are thinking in new ways, building fresh projects and achieving real change across all industries. Fashion falls comfortably within that bracket, but what’s better is any stage of growth is relevant; whether you have an established business or even just the beginnings of a good idea.

Prizes from $18,000 to $360,000 are up for grabs across three categories in a bid to offer opportunity to as many different types of creators as possible. The Incubate award is for individuals with an idea or project that needs funding; the Launch award is for start-ups and non-profits that have launched but are still learning; and the Scale award is for those with a record of success that are ready for the next level.

“We’re a company that wants to provide people with an energy source. We want to provide people with motivation, excitement. We want them to love what they do,” Miguel McKelvey, co-founder and chief creative officer of WeWork, says in the above video. This is the first year of what’s set to be an annual programme.

The barrier to enter is low too – all you have to do is fill out a form and submit a 90-second video by the deadline of August 24. The regional finals will then take place in London on September 14, before the Creator Awards Global Finals in New York in November.

At the first three regional finals in the US, Emily Kane won $36,000 for GirlForward to bring her English Language Learning curriculum online to support girls who have been displaced by conflict and persecution around the world. Donovan Morrison won $72,000 for Luna Lights to help bring the safety light solution to 20 assisted living communities and 600 older adults this year. And Samuel Bain won $180,000 for Imerman Angels to take the one-on-one Cancer Support Community beyond the US.

London’s event on September 14 will also include a full day of public programming, a pop-up market with local sellers and a job fair. Further Creator Awards will be hosted in Berlin, Mexico City and Tel Aviv.

Categories
Blocks business e-commerce mobile technology

Mobile wallets: Really ready for take-off?

birds-taking-off

2015 was the year of the mobile wallet. But despite the fast take-up, the payment method didn’t quite take off. However, the conditions are right for mobile wallets to really take flight this year.

Mobile payments are set to expand fast over the next 12 months with Samsung in the vanguard, especially in the US where it’s market leader, and in China where it will debut next year.

Now I know a lot of people think “Apple” when you talk about mobile payments. That’s just one consequence of Apple’s image as an innovator and it has meant Apple Pay’s rollout in 2015 got A LOT of attention.

But it would be wrong to ignore other players because, a bit like the rise of Android phones compared to the iPhone, they’re often the ones making the tech truly universal rather than just cool.

So, back with Samsung. The Korean tech giant is going to expand its Samsung Pay ‘mobile wallet’ to its lower-priced phones within the next year, according to a Reuters interview with Thomas Ko, global co-general manager of Samsung Pay.

samsung-pay-3

The service debuted in 2015 in South Korea and the US via the company’s newer high-end phones only. But with Samsung offering a huge number of phones across the price range and it being the global smartphone leader, Samsung Pay’s extension to more (and more affordable) phone models will be key in helping to democratise mobile payments.

Samsung will also be helped by the fact that it uses technology already widely used by stores, rather than requiring special equipment like Apple Pay and Android Pay.

Will the expansion mean the US becomes more mobile wallet-friendly? That’s hard to call. So far, it’s one country that has been relatively slow to adopt new payment technology. Not only that, it’s not as if swiping a smartphone to pay is really any easier than swiping a credit/debit card.

But… the situation is changing. And with Samsung already the mobile wallet market leader in the US and planning to add an online payments service (thus competing with current king PayPal), it’s determined to make America sit up and take notice.

The US may not be anywhere near the stage of Sweden, where consumers are increasingly walking around with no cash at all because digital payments are so easy. But, it’s on its way and this new development is one more blow against cash.

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday

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e-commerce mobile technology

Future world revisited: Welcome to cashless Sweden

sweden

Three stories have really excited my interest this week. And no, it’s not the Burberry ad campaign nor all those pre-fall collections. Instead it’s:

Think about it, that trio of stories is real world-of-tomorrow stuff, the kind of developments people, say 50 years ago, expected to happen sooner. But back then they also expected us to be walking around wearing silver space suits and driving flying cars.

The fact is that we still do normal stuff (wearing jeans, driving cars, doing the dishes, taking the dog for a walk, watching sitcoms…). But the future has crept up on us, if not imperceptibly, at least very fast and in ways we didn’t always expect.

So, to the point of the story. In Sweden, cash is no longer king, according to a new report. If you ask people on the shopping streets of Stockholm when they last paid for something in cash, many have to think a bit. Was it yesterday, or perhaps last week?

Digital payments via card or mobile app have become so widely accepted that many Swedes no longer carry cash at all. Indeed, there’s such a high level of trust in the digital transaction system, even children often pay with their debit cards.

And perhaps it’s that level of trust that’s key – such a situation may take longer to happen in countries like the US or the UK. There even the most digitally-focused millennial still worries about trusting their entire financial life to a card or an app and many parents would be horrified at the thought of giving little Jack or Amy a debit card.

While card and other digital payments are key for retail sales in many other countries too, a scenario where consumers would leave the house without any cash is still some way off. Cash is still a must-have and there are still situations where you’d be laughed at for offering payment via a digital alternative.

But not in Sweden. According to the study from KTH-Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden can currently claim to be the world’s leader in cashless trading. “Our use of cash is small, and it’s decreasing rapidly,” said Niclas Arvidsson, researcher and author of the study. “Cash is still an important means of payment in many countries’ markets, but that no longer applies here.”

In the retail industry in Sweden, about 80% of all transaction are made by cards and this number is increasing, Bengt Nilervall, Head of Payment Systems at the Swedish Trade Federation, said. He added that “we have a big trust in the government, the system, the banks, and the authorities.”

According to the study, in Sweden there is less than SEK80bn (about €8bn) in circulation, a sharp decline from just six years ago, when the total was SEK106bn.

For most private consumers, being able to pay with a card or via the very popular mobile payment app Swish, is convenient, secure, and free. Cards are used for purchases both small and large, and there are many instances where only digital payments are accepted.

Not everyone is convinced, of course and older consumers, plus people who live in rural areas still cling to cash, as does anyone who prefers the anonymity it permits.

On the retailer side, it seems that most welcome the security and convenience of cash-free sales. For small businesses and street vendors, the Swedish iZettle mobile payment solution for cards, or mobile app Swish, allow for easy payments.

But as with traditional credit card transactions, the new digital solutions are also starting to charge fees for businesses, frustrating some vendors who must cover such costs, even for small purchases.

That aside, it’s a model of the future that’s actually working (and working well) today.

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday

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digital snippets e-commerce film social media Startups technology

Digital snippets: Wren, Gucci, John Lewis, Lord & Taylor, Kenneth Cole, Sephora

A bit of a catch-up post today in light of several weeks of travel… here then all the latest stories to know about surrounding fashion and tech from the past fortnight or so:

 

  • “First Kiss” film (as above) goes viral with 63 million views – is ad for clothing label Wren [NY Times]
  • Gucci launches own Spotify music hub to promote short film ‘The Fringe’ [The Drum]
  • John Lewis looks to digital innovation as next big thing in retail with ‘JLab incubator’ [The Guardian]
  • Lord & Taylor now accepting bitcoin [CNBC]
  • Kenneth Cole challenges consumers to do good deeds and prove it via Google Glass [Creativity]
  • Sephora launches ‘Beauty Board’ social shopping platform [USA Today]
  • Bergdorf Goodman makes Instagram shots shoppable at SXSW with 52Grams [5th/58th]
  • Dolce & Gabbana crafts love story around perfume to appeal to consumer emotion [Luxury Daily
  • adidas launches gaming platform powered by social media starring Lionel Messi [Marketing Magazine]
  • Can Instagram save ageing teen retailer Aeropostale? [CNBC]
  • Which big brands are courting the maker movement, and why – from Levi’s to Home Depot  [AdWeek]
  • How beacon technology could change the way we shop [Fashionista]
  • On Instagram, a bazaar where you least expect it [Bits blog]
  • What Google’s wearable tech platform could mean for the fashion industry [Fashionista]
  • Smartphone payment system to be unveiled in UK [FT]
  • Alibaba ramping up efforts to sell US brands in China [WSJ]
  • What does WeChat’s new e-credit card mean for luxury? [JingDaily]
  • Op-Ed | Are camera phones killing fashion? [BoF]