Archive for May, 2016

Banking and connected homes . .

May 31, 2016

Connected Homes

Post 3 of 4 of the series – The Bank of Things

Perhaps one of the most exciting areas of technology will be the connected home. Unlike connected cities the customer will be in control and be able to introduce smart devices of their choice.  

Nearly every room could have a wide array of connected devices. Clearly TV and sound might dominate the front room, but expect home to feature dedicated “vision” rooms where 3D projectors beam images to every wall and floor to fully immerse the viewer or gamer. 

For the bedroom, you can already buy a mattress that monitors and reports your sleep pattern and able to regulate temperature to optimise your sleep experience. Aside from mood lighting, light bulbs have become “multi-function” devices by doubling as speakers or WiFi extenders.  

In the bathroom expect to catch up on the news and other personal notifications in the bathroom mirror, whilst your connected toothbrush records your brushing habits and send alerts if it detects possible issues. Even the toilet will analyse content to assess your health. 

In the kitchen your fridge will manage your shopping possibly working with your bin so that items from cupboards can also be recorded. Cooking maybe a thing of the past as robotic arms take over that task unless of course you’d rather just have a 3D printed burger. Already you can buy kettles that are connected so you can use an app to ensure water is boiled before you get to the kitchen.

 Laundry rooms may get smarter with clothes identifying their washing instructions so you never have to choose a setting or risk choosing the wrong setting. It will even tell you if you mixed the wrong items. There are already socks that are connected and can tell you how often they have been worn and washed, hopefully they are the same number. However will we need to wash clothes? Will we instead simply recycle clothes and have new sets 3D printed? 3D printed clothes can be much smarter with LED lightening and smart materials that detect heat and adjust ventilation automatically.  

Most of the above has been demonstrated already and there is much more to come. But what does this mean from a banking perspective? Just like the Connected Car, the Connected Home too might have it’s own account that allows a detailed spend analysis for the home. Devices could be connected to the account for shopping or ordering recipes for the robot chef. 

Utilities could also be connected for payments but also for budgeting. So possibly a budget could be set for heating and a smart algorithm is used to manage the bills to that budget. The algorithm reduces / increases temperature not only to the weather outside but also to keep within a budget. In the UK utility companies hold £1.5bn in excess funds relating to overpaid prepayments, this could be eliminated with smart meters connected to accounts. 

Managing the home is a complex task and banks could play a role as an infomediary by managing switching between suppliers to get the best deal and provide a “single statement” for all bills. Whilst personal finance management provides spend analysis information, banks have the opportunity to provide a role that helps customers manage their expenses better. 

ASB in New Zealand is the only bank I’m aware to produce their own IOT device for the home, a smart digital savings box, Clever Kash. The device has an interactive screen and a companion app. The idea is as the child earns money their parents can flick cons from their phone to the savings box and the child can see the balance being updated. The bank provides this to help parents teach the child about money and saving. There is huge opportunity in the connected home for banks in the future but for now banks should prototype home banking experiences for this exciting future.

 

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Banking on Connected Cars

May 18, 2016

Post 2 of 4 of the ‘Bank of Things’

The future is already here with self-driving cars and the race is on globally to full legislate for them to be acceptable. Dubai has set a target of 25% of vehicles to be driverless by 2030. This alone will have huge impact not only to laws, but insurance and jobs. It is easy to see that such automation will be a big factor in predictions that within 25years we could see unemployment reaching 50% in the USA! On a positive front, today 96% of car accidents are caused by human error. However even eliminating a large number of accidents has an impact on jobs in hospitals and for insurance companies.

The connected car is a great example of IOT, compute power + huge array of connected sensors + extensive data collection. Car designers have already moved their focus to car interiors as much as if not more on the exterior as they imagine spaces we can relax or work in. There are already car panels with built in sensors so that a knock or dent is detected and can be reported automatically. Cars may automatically report potholes. Smarter interaction will allow car’s to book themselves in for a service while you work. And manufacturers are already designing boots that can be used to accept parcels while your out – the courier notifies you of their arrival and you open the boot for the delivery or collection remotely via an app.

As cars will become much more interactive what role can Banks provide? Clearly they can allow the car to make payments to pay for tolls and charging (fuel) themselves. Banks could also look to provide accounts dedicated to the car so that a full picture, including servicing and insurance, can be ascertained on the cost of owning a car (personal finance management for car’s).

Some of us may choose never to own a car, and simply use Uber to order a self-driving car on demand. This will create the possibility of “car landlords” – people buying cars to earn money by driving others. Clearly this represents an opportunity for banks in terms of mortgage style loans for “fleets” of cars as an investment.

Last year Santander teamed up with CarZapp to provide car dealership’s the option of providing a car sharing scheme to their customers. Customers of the scheme can pick up and drop off cars as they please from participating dealerships using the App. It’s a very different customer experience than just providing a loan for the car. It enables customers the option of driving different cars rather than just owning one. The scheme was launched in Germany where Santander is already one of the largest car financers in the market. It’s this market share that allowed them to innovate the concept of car sharing using an App.

In Poland you don’t need to got o a branch if you’re a business banking customer, Idea bank has a bank that comes to you! Idea bank is expanding it’s fleet of car’s that have been customised with a built in secure deposit box and ATM. It is possible to order the car to come to you and currently it is driven to the customers location. However it’s easy to see that this is a great candidate for a bank on demand ordered via Uber.

Elsewhere in Canada, Blueshore, looked at connected cars in a very different way. They thought about the passengers and how they may utilise their time. Focusing on wealth management they looked at the possibility of new user interfaces designed specifically for windscreens so that a passenger can review their portfolio whilst being taken to their destination. This allows car journeys to be much more productive.

Initially it may be difficult to think of the role of connected cars in banking beyond payments, but as you can see Banks are not short of imagination already. What is for sure is that there is much more to come and now is the time for banking to think about customer experiences and the connected car.

Banking in Connected Cities – Post 1 of 4 of the ‘Banking of Things’ Series

May 11, 2016

Banking in Connected Cities

City planners, councillors, governments and architects have been considering the possibilities of connected cities for years now; it is only people outside of these professions that are surprised by how advanced the thinking is on this topic. The given aspect is ubiquitous WiFi, however this could be enabled in different ways for different purposes – see this article ‘Examining The Future of Wifi’.-  Each one providing a different reach, bandwidth and speed. These new types of WiFi will be necessary to connect everything in a city: from streetlights to parking meters and bus stops, as well as connected cars and people.

Connected cities features a large focus on transportation which I will cover in the next article. However, from an infrastructure perspective, we should expect that traffic in cities would flow much better as the city gathers more information, directly from vehicles but also from traffic lights, CCTV and even street lights, while processing it all in real-time.

Street lighting will go through a huge change. Initially this will be to use more energy efficient LED and solar powered lighting, but will progress to become smarter to detect people and traffic, so lights aren’t on unnecessarily. This could also be used to identify potential crime by becoming brighter or changing colour to highlight the danger, while alerting the law simultaneously.

Apart from the proliferation of charging points, clear glass solar panels aren’t a too distant future and could potentially make every building largely self-sufficient for power. With utilities, we expect monitors to automatically report leaks and outages. And while not strictly in the space of IoT, we expect cities to be much cleaner as litter is cleaned up by robots, and smarter CCTV will automatically fine those that drop litter.

Expect billboards and advertising to personalise content and special offers, by detecting who is nearby and within vision. The technology already exists to dynamically personalise video adverts so that merchandise labelling can be changed to match the target person’s preferences. We have barely scratched the surface of the possibilities that technology can bring to transform our cities.

From a banking perspective, we expect to see far fewer branches in the high street, and those that remain are likely to be very different to the traditional branches of the past; much more open, with fewer staff members and more self-service machines. Many could be consumed into being part of a very different customer experience. For example, while planning a wedding, the advisor is able to help you find loan to pay for your event and provide insurance in case anything goes wrong.

Expect to never have to reach into a purse or wallet to use cash or a credit card, as you’ll simply be recognised (either through an implanted chip, or through biometrics like facial recognition) and charged as you enter buildings (e.g. museums and cinemas), or leave a shop with merchandise.

Banks have already looked at presenting offers to customers as they walk past certain stores, but they could also use the same approach to provide advice on:

  • Spending: skip Starbucks as you already overspent there this month (Ally bank in the USA are already trialling this concept with an app called Splurge)
  • Healthcare: skip Pizza Hut as you’ve not exercised enough today
  • Saving: delay going into the city by an hour will save you money because current congestion has increased toll fees

Clearly a big area for banking will be the facilitation and control of payments in a smart city, but the bank also has the opportunity to be a trusted infomediary for the customer, not just in providing real offers, but also by providing advice and rewards to drive advocacy or retention.

 

The Dawn of the ‘Bank of Things’ – 4 Part Blog Series

May 11, 2016

The Dawn of the “Bank of Things”

Over the past ten years, I’ve seen analysts’ forecast of the number of devices connected to the internet grow from 2 billion to 50 billion. The reality is we simply don’t know and the ever-spiralling number is a sign of just how big the potential for this new technology is.  It seems it will soon be possible to connect anything and everything.

We already have a mattress cover that monitors your health; socks that tell you how many times they’ve been worn and washed; 3D printed clothes that adjust to temperature; and milk bottle tops that tell you if the milk has gone off. Meanwhile, toothbrushes, light bulbs, door handles and even pens, can all be connected and can all deliver new services as a result.

New types of information

A new era of connectivity has begun and with it comes a whole different level of “big data”, as these devices emit a constant flow of information.

Just as the number and variety of things connected to the internet continues to grow, so does the range of information coming from them. Sensors can provide data on location (GPS), movement (accelerometer), temperature, pressure and light, for example. And it quickly becomes apparent that the possibilities for this stream of information are limitless.

Interconnected “things”

What’s more, it doesn’t stop there as these connected “things” can also communicate with each other.  Imagine a washing machine that warns you that you’ve left your phone in the pocket of the jeans you just placed inside it to wash.   Or curtains that open when the alarm on your phone wakes you up in the morning (possibly a little later than usual because your phone has checked your diary for the day ahead and also detected you haven’t slept well during the night).

Again, the possibilities of what could result from devices that are able to talk to other devices are only limited by our imagination.

Children are already learning the basics of wiring up sensors and finding ways to use the information using kits such as Wunderbar, SAM and Kano to build their own gadgets. These are the skill sets of the future – electronics (circuits), APIs/scripting, and analytics (data).

The future of banking

The implications of this new connected world are only just starting to be felt. Every industry is in a state of transformation and none more so than banking.

Banks are thinking about how this new world of big data could potentially transform what they offer to customers and their relationship with them. This is what I call the “Bank of Things” and in this new world it is likely that banks will want to become the trusted:

  • Custodian of the customer’s data – helping them to manage privacy and control sharing
  • “Infomediary” – acting as an adviser between the customer and sellers
  • Payments manager for the customer’s “things”

A glimpse of what’s to come

We are on the cusp of a new technological dawn that will clearly bring huge changes for banks and banking. In this series of blogs I will be exploring this topic from a banking perspective and looking at what it means in terms of Connected Cities, Connected Cars, Connected Homes and Connected People.

Given the huge potential of the technology I recognise I’ll only be able to provide a glimpse of the possibilities, but I hope it gives you a taste of what’s to come and welcome any feedback you might have on other applications of the technology.