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March 29th, 2014

Tech PR viewpoint: Financial Technology: Fascinating, fast-moving and (under)funded

Tech PR viewpoint: Financial Technology: Fascinating, fast-moving and (under)funded

This week I’ve been thinking about financial technology, or ‘fintech’. I attended a packed event hosted by Green Visor Capital which debated a range of topics including: how entrepreneurs can build successful fintech companies, investors’ views of fintech, and a gamut of topics in between – from the future of Bitcoin and other digital currencies, to mobile payments and digital wallets, peer-to-peer lending, capital market technologies, and the role and future of ‘traditional banks’.

I love technology in all its forms – innovation changes what is considered possible, and transforms how we connect, share and think. I lean to complexity so I find myself personally drawn to software, enterprise – and fintech. How we trade, save, share, buy and invest are fascinating topics. It’s not only a huge market – consider Visa’s transaction volume in 2013 (a cool $6 trillion) – but one that faces change. For example, a survey of millennials found that 71% said they’d rather visit their dentist than their bank. Personally, in the last week alone I’ve used Square, Leaf, Google Wallet and PayPal to complete transactions.

When it comes to early stage funding, fintech hasn’t had the ‘pazzazz’ and allure factor of social media, consumer and many other technology areas. According to PWC and the National Venture Capital Association’s MoneyTree Report, the proportion of early stage funding that has gone to financial startups is less than 0.5%. Yes, fintech is interesting and transformative – but it’s littered with complexity, regulations, rules and compliance.

But fintech reflects a fundamental shift – consumers don’t want to walk into a bank: they want to tap, swipe or click.

If the discussions pace and energy I saw this week in San Francisco were even a hint of what’s to come, we’ll certainly be able to count on how fintech is going to change how money makes the world go round.

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March 7th, 2014

Tech PR viewpoint: Pay-to-wear becomes pay-to-tweet

Tech PR viewpoint: Pay-to-wear becomes pay-to-tweet

The Oscars selfie. Yes, I admit I retweeted it – along with 3.3 million other enthusiastic Twitter users.

But hang on, that white Samsung Galaxy Note 3 wasn’t actually Ellen’s own phone? No way! Next you’ll be telling me that Ann Hathaway wasn’t paid $750,000 to wear Tiffany & Co in 2011. Or that Cate Blanchett and Sandra Bullock didn’t simply pick their dresses from their own wardrobes. Or that Jennifer Lawrence bought that dazzling necklace with her own Hunger Games pay check.

At the Oscars product placement for clothes, jewellery and accessories is no new or big thing. Designers woo celebrities and in turn celebrities help designers gain visibility – both at events such as the Academy Awards and outside. Charlize Theron was a ‘spokesperson’ for Dior. Carolina Herrera had agreements with Reese Witherspoon and Christina Ricci.

Even the placement of technology is not new. Think cars in Bond films, such as the BMW in ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ (a movie that had $100 million in product placement deals). Then there’s Bond’s reliance on his trust Sony Vaio in ‘Skyfall’. And remember AOL’s presence throughout ‘You’ve Got Mail’? Or the Apple PowerBooks in ‘Independence Day’?

Lines are becoming increasingly blurred as product placement is ‘staged’ into live events, but as technology continues to permeate every facet of our lives, surely it’s no surprise that technical accessories have now joined dresses, diamonds and other doodads? I’m not saying it’s right – or even done particularly slickly in this case, as beyond product placement there’s the whole element of trust, the management of social media sponsorship and the murky area of sponsor-requested content (Samsung paying for a number of tweets) to deal with – but unlike ‘Mr. Hublot’ beating Disney, it’s certainly no surprise.

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