Trends in Payment Technology in 2020


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In 2020, the payment technology landscape is set to become increasingly digitised, more focused on the customer experience than ever before, and progressively cross-border efficient, as the digital-first generation hits its prime spending years and the vast majority morph into cashless consumers. Cash is quickly losing ground to plastic and electronic payment methods: in the UK, only 34 percent of payments were made in cash in 2018, according to UK Finance, with debit cards overtaking cash as the most popular payment method the year prior. But as the payments universe expands and as governments grow their support for financial inclusion by promoting non-cash payments, the payments technology world is moving closer towards becoming a unified, centralised, open ecosystem – one that puts user convenience and the customer experience first.

Be it through enhanced security for card users, more efficient ways to pay for products or services or the shift towards an invisible, frictionless payment experience, customer experience (CX) will be without doubt the prime competitive differentiator in 2020. Banks, card firms, BigTechs, FinTechs, and other players are constantly developing new technology to make the CX seamless, and in many instances customers won’t even have to input their information to pay over the coming 12 months. Uber is the first to implement this ‘invisible’ payment transaction, by keeping customers’ information on file and simply charging them automatically at the end of every ride or delivery, not even using the word “buy” to initiate the transaction. This ‘eWallet’ experience will define the future of cashless payments, starting now, while biometrics could also possibly take centre stage in payment technologies over the coming decade. In 2019, we saw the first ever biometric fingerprint credit card issued by a British bank, and as payment providers look to increase security measures in response to the increasing sophistication of fraud tactics, biometrics data is going to become even more integral to the payments process. Already, smartphone providers and app developers have embraced facial recognition and fingerprint technology, and 2020 will see more and more solutions that offer multi-biometric identification payment technologies among them.

While we’re on the topic of security, the increasing abilities of fraudsters and hackers will be a hot-button topic in 2020, forcing non-traditional payment providers to take innovative and extensive measures to protect consumer data. The simple truth is, fraudsters are getting smarter, and balancing CX with data security is going to be a critical challenge for payment providers this year. Thankfully, they too are becoming smarter: payment solution providers have begun to experiment with the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in fraud prevention.

As experts will attest to, financial fraud is becoming increasingly complex and fraudsters are now relying on machine learning to bypass security solutions and execute cybercrime. Outdated fraud detection systems are no longer cutting it, but by contrast AI-driven approaches can detect fraud by uncovering anomalies, while satisfying businesses needs at the same time – something that cutting edge, fast growing fintech payments issuer, processor and programme manager EML is prepared for. Over the next 12 months, it’s thought AI will become absolutely integral to fraud risk management for business.

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EML Payments, a market leader in global payment solutions, has garnered a reputation in compliance and anti-fraud technology and manages more than 1,400 programs across 23 countries in North America, Europe and Australia. Among the Brisbane-based company’s payouts, gifts, incentives and rewards and supplier payment solutions are its highly secure mobile and virtual cards – proven to be more effective in terms of fraud protection since each card is only good for a specific payment, and they are sent directly to the email address confirmed in the enrolment process.

While CX and fraud prevention will become much more important in 2020, companies will have to respond to increasingly complex regulations on data protection and payment usage at the same time. The GDPR in the EU and the CCPA in California have paved a path that will very shortly be followed by other jurisdictions – and the implications on data usage and consumer protection will be enormous. It won’t just be the financial services industry that will feel the impact: a huge number of industries will need to think very seriously about how they interact with data, and the ramifications of not doing so will be extreme.

Perhaps the most significant change we will see in the payment technology space in the year ahead is that the digital-first generation will comprise the majority of spenders, in the U.S. at least. Marketers have been targeting the younger generations for a few years now, but in 2020, millennials and Gen Z will truly hit their stride in terms of spending power. What this means is that more money will be transacted via non-traditional payment methods than ever before, and to keep up with the demands of this massive group of consumers, businesses will need to innovate and become fully digital so as to appeal to these big-spenders – or risk falling very far behind.

Smart IoT Technology Is Changing the Hotel Industry for the Better

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Now that we live in the digital era, it goes without saying that we are immersed in and surrounded by modern marvels like digitalization and technological advancement. This is an entirely new frontier in life in which we are more interconnected than ever before. Quite literally every aspect of life as we know it and every thriving industry has found itself in the position of realigning with the way that the world is moving. We have driven ourselves to this point, and we are now beyond the point of return. We have become so digitally and technologically inclined that we are not only more inclined towards these ideals, but also more reliant on them. Even (and especially) the hotel industry has been significantly impacted – and continues to be so – by technological advancement and enhancement. As one of the most important industries in the world, this ought to come as no surprise. Take the advancements of IoT (i.e. Internet of Things) and their impact on the hotel industry, for example.

Today, smart IoT technology is revolutionizing the hotel industry from the ground up. It has only been in recent years that smart IoT technology has really kicked into high gear, positively revolutionizing the global hotel industry from the ground up in the process. Whether it is the smart thermostats and energy management system found in hotels’ operational systems, or the wireless control of hotel rooms via IoT itself, the point is always the same: smart IoT technology is changing the game in all the best ways. It is easy to state this, but it is quite another point to back it up with evidence as to why this is the case. There are several reasons that smart IoT technology is changing the hotel industry for the better. Each of these reasons are worth their weight in gold and are important in their own right, but at the end of the day, the most important underlying reasons are the ones that make the most impact on the hotel industry – and the general world around it, for that matter.

As far as technological advancements go, IoT is well and truly one of the most significant and highly efficient of them all. While it has yet to do so, it is not at all unlikely that IoT will one day shift into place as the replacing operational technology for the worldwide web. A byproduct of the internet in many ways, smart IoT technology works its magic by effectively nurturing the hotel industry operational processes and systems to function and thrive at their highest objective notion. Take the cost-efficiency of smart IoT technology, for instance. The cost-effectiveness of introducing smart IoT technology into a hotel’s landscape cannot be and should never be underestimated. This is a branch of smart technology that is designed and intended to function and thrive on the basis of limiting energy consumption while maximizing efficiency across the board and around the hotel’s property. When up to 60% of a hotel’s cost of running comes down to basic operations, the introduction and ongoing advancement of a technology like smart IoT technology can and does make all the difference in the world.

And then there is the resale value that incorporating IoT into a hotel’s operational landscape has. Successfully incorporating smart IoT technology into a hotel’s internal and external processes and systems is all about investing in the hotel not just in the immediate sense, but in a long-lasting sense. This of course comes into effect in many ways, but also in the event that the hotel in question is sold later down the road. Resale value goes up significantly when smart IoT technology is introduced into the framework of a hotel’s infrastructure. The digital era is well and truly here, and it is going from strength to strength all the time. Every aspect of life as we know it and every thriving industry that exists today has been fundamentally impacted from modern marvels like digitalization and technological advancement. 

In the hotel industry specifically, technologies like smart IoT technology have been working their magic by essentially revolutionizing the hotel industry from the ground up tenfold. It has been a work in progress – and continues to be so today – however it continues to flourish and thrive more and more all the time. Smart IoT technology in the hotel industry is specifically geared towards drastically improving operational cost efficiency, sustainability, and resale value. At the end of the day, there is no getting around the fact: smart IoT technology is changing the hotel industry for the better. There is a lot more where all this advancement and innovation came from. The future of convenience, efficiency, security, and sustainability in the hotel industry is here.

Current Trends in Educational Technology – Ready to Disrupt the Educational Field


Technology often disrupts established fields, but there’s a common misunderstanding as to how that happens. People often think that the technologies that are transforming our world today were created recently, but the nature of technological development makes that proposition unlikely.

In most cases, new technologies are clunky, expensive, and hard to implement — which is why they start with a small user base and remain in that state for a while until the required leaps are made. Only then does a new technology gain mass appeal and start being adopted on a large scale. In other words, it’s only at this stage that a technology becomes capable of truly disrupting a field.

Take your phone’s screen as an example. It may feel like touch screen technology was invented and made popular by the 2009 iPhone, or maybe you think it was created for and popularized by the PDAs that were around in the 90s and early 2000s. But in truth, touch screen technology was invented in the 1960s. The HP-150 computer had touch-screen support — it was launched in 1983.

The reasons why those early renditions of the touch screen failed to realize the technology’s potential were due in large part to technical problems. The HP-150, for example, relied on a grid of infrared beams to detect touches on its screen. But the infrared sensors would collect dust, and required constant cleaning as a result.

Why bring all of this up? Well, it’s simple. For the past few years, a lot of interesting applications of education technology have been in the “collecting dust in the sensors” stage. They were clunky, expensive, and hard to implement; they looked bad and frustrated users. However, many of those new educational tools and ideas are now ready to be mass implemented and disrupt the educational field.

The Jill Watson case

Let’s consider a simple example: chatbots. You have likely already dealt with one of those. A lot of companies have started implementing chatbots as part of their customer experience efforts, and chatbots can now do everything from helping customers browse catalogs to setting appointments and even holding conversations.

Colleges have also started making use of chatbots. Back in 2016, Georgia Tech professor Ashok Goel used IBM’s Watson AI to build Jill Watson — a chatbot teacher assistant. The bot was trained using data from the course’s forum, and for one semester, Jill helped students with their routine questions and requests on the course forum. The best part was that the students didn’t even realize Jill was a bot, and she was helping computer science majors.

Jill is still active today. According to the Georgia Tech website, “Soon Jill will be able to answer about 40 percent of the 10,000 questions students ask each semester. And she doesn’t even need coffee breaks.”

Georgia Tech calls Jill an “artificially intelligent teacher assistant.” Other sources call her a chatbot. The truth is the line between the two is blurry in cases like this, especially when you throw machine learning into the mix. Regardless of what you call it, the result is that we are ever closer to creating an automated general learning assistance solution—one that can be customized and adapts to individual students’ needs.

This will result in software like Jill being present in every student’s phone and forum, helping people learn faster, more effectively, and in a more self-sufficient manner. It will be a personal digital tutor serving students content, grading essays—yes, bots can already do that—and overall, making students’ and teachers’ lives easier.

The rise of massive education

Before the printing press, each book had to be copied by hand. The cost in time and materials, combined with the technical knowledge needed to copy books, meant that books were expensive luxury goods for most of human history. But then came the printing press, and we went from awkwardly copying books page by page to mass-producing books by the truckload in a matter of weeks. Technology made the written word more accessible than it had ever been before.

College lectures are already undergoing the same type of revolution. Earlier, the only way to see a lecture was to be physically present in the room and witness the lecture being executed in front of you.

As cameras became cheaper and video storage tools more reliable, the rise of long-distance and correspondence courses gave us an inkling of what a future with mass-produced education could look like. However, mail was clunky, slow, and often unreliable. Those were still the early days of massive long-distance education.

In the present, those initial problems have been solved thanks to cloud storage, cloud computing, and streaming technologies. This is what made EdX possible.

EdX is a massive open online course (MOOC) provider launched in 2012. The platform is the result of a partnership between Harvard and MIT. Their approach is simple: every single course is open and free, and the curriculums are organized around weekly video lessons that are followed up with activities to help students review and deepen their understanding of the lecture. If you complete a free course, you can pay a fee to get a certified EdX accreditation.

As of 2018, EdX has served 18 million students through two thousand university-level online courses. In the same year, an estimated 20 million students were attending university in the US.

Right now, this form of education is an alternative to traditional learning. But when will it become a partial replacement? With the rise of video technology, making professors deliver the same lectures every semester is no longer necessary. It makes a lot more sense to simply record the semester’s lectures, edit them together, and then let students watch those lectures on their own time, at their own pace — which is what EdX allows.

Professors will then be responsible for updating the videos when needed. They will be able to dedicate the rest of their time to answering questions and helping students.

The personal benefits

The rise of mass video tools and AI teacher assistants will mean a surge in students’ ability to learn independently. This freedom will benefit college students while at university and post-graduation. After all, careers today require almost constant learning of new technologies, and the independent study skills students learn at EdX will help them as they continue their real-world studying. In addition to career benefits, constant study has also been linked to longevity and increased mental health.

Right now, we have to search and find information. The next step is having information come to us when we need it and at a manageable pace. While we wait for such tools to gain mass appeal, you can get young students’ attention using more traditional methods, such as math worksheets.

Technology and Wellbeing: Are They Totally Incompatible?


The Global Wellness Summit just released its annual Future of Wellness list, and among their predictions of the biggest health trends anticipated for 2020 sits the increased integration of health (especially mental health) and technology. You know, the rise of things like virtual therapy, mindfulness apps, and wearable devices to decipher your moods, feelings and blood pressure. That kind of thing.

I am deeply worried.

On one hand, technology has provided the healthcare community with valuable tools for improving patient care, from apps for booking appointments and delivering appointment reminders, to more specific medical technologies that have improved the quality of healthcare delivery, increased patient safety, decreased the frequency of medical errors and strengthened the interaction between patients and healthcare providers. Technology has led us to where we are today, with access to new and better-than-ever diagnostic tools, cutting-edge treatments, access to remote consultations with specialists, and intuitive mobile apps that lead to better healthcare results overall. 

Without advances in technology we wouldn’t be celebrating the success of the world’s first robotic surgery in China last year, where a patient suffering from numbness received robotic surgery from robot Tinavi, the world’s only orthopedic robotic system capable of carrying out surgery on the extremities. The 42-year-old patient recovered in record time as a result – he was able to get up from bed the next day and had recovered within one week.

But on the other hand, when it comes to individuals rather than healthcare providers, there are now virtual reality apps that claim to help ease symptoms of depression and anxiety, and devices that can help people with their postoperative recovery process. There are sports and fitness apps that help you hit weekly fitness targets, pregnancy apps that help you along the journey and menstrual period trackers that can help couples conceive.

I am most certainly not denying that technology has disrupted the healthcare industry in the way it desperately needed to be, nor that technology should be celebrated for its remarkable capacity to save lives and prevent suffering. What I am saying, however, is that technology is a double edged sword when it comes to our personal health, and the two are – in my opinion – wholly incompatible.

Take the influx of health and wellbeing apps like sleep cycle analysis, and meditation apps, for example. Do people honestly expect that by closing their eyes and clicking START on a meditation app they will experience that same powerful, spiritual, yogic state of relaxation meditation promises its devoted practisers? Meditation is premised on using one’s breath to reduce the adrenaline, cortisol and other stress-related chemicals constantly pulsing through our body – but mobile phones themselves emit a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation capable of causing changes to brain activity. At the same time phones been proven to cause anxiety, frustration and impatience in mobile users.

To me, I am at a loss as to why anyone would think meditating via one’s mobile phone is a good idea. Not only are you being constantly tempted to flick open your phone when you see texts and emails coming in from friends, but you are also being tempted into distraction by pop up advertisements for white Label CBD products and PatPat outfit ensembles for you and your partner. It is surely impossible to get through a full meditation without sneaking a glance at the screen.

Studies have literally proven that the blue light on mobile devices and computers restrain the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep cycle or circadian rhythm. In other words, looking at a screen – even if dim – can physically have an effect on your body clock, in turn affecting our physiology and behavior.

Psychologically, overuse of mobile phones has been scientifically proven to increase anxiety, feelings of loneliness, and low self-esteem, as well as frustration, and impatience in instances where the technology fails. So, the polar opposite of the outcome desired from meditation and calming apps such as Buddhify and Headspace. Personally, I get a tight chest, feeling of shortness of breath, and the beginnings of a headache whenever I am even close to my phone. Having spent years trying to self-diagnose this ‘tech disorder’ I have finally concluded that while it mightn’t have yet been definitely proven, the mental anxiety that comes with cell phone addiction (which I clearly have) is manifesting physically within me.

Over to smartphones and exercise, and there are more studies proving that rather than helping people exercise in the gym, smartphones can have a negative effect on physical fitness levels. Recently researchers from Kent State University found that college students tended to be less fit when they spent as much as 14 hours a day on their phones, compared with those who spent just an hour and a half a day on their phones. The study, which was published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, followed more than 300 college students and studied the correlations between smartphone usage and fitness and body composition.

The evidence is there – technology (smartphones specifically) and mental health and wellbeing just aren’t meant to go hand in hand. Spending time in nature, on the other hand, has been proven to have measurable benefits on a person’s wellbeing, as well as provide symptom relief for health issues like heart disease, depression, cancer, anxiety and attention disorders. Spending 40 minutes walking in a cedar forest can lead to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is required for blood pressure and immune-system function. So rather than download that meditation app or fitness tracker, why not put down the phone and just for a walk outdoors instead? Let’s take a step back, in order to keep progressing as humans were intended.

Awakened but so Very Asleep (the Tragedy of Today)


Through the internet and through social media, you could say that we are now at a time of unparalleled connectivity. We are aware of global as well as national issues and a click away from friends and family members. 

With technology and social media on the rise, the possibilities seem endless. However, could too much connectivity be (ironically) fostering more disconnection instead? When does social media become more of a detriment to society than a benefit?

For some of us, scrolling through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram is like coffee in the morning and we are now beginning to think about things like social media as an addiction, something that distracts from reality instead of heightening it. 

We are beginning to have to talk seriously about our kids, glued to their phone screens for most of their waking days (and nights). We are beginning to think about digital dependency and the effects of this type of addictive, compulsive behavior on mental health. 

A study found that the average Brit checks their phone as much as 28 times a day. Although smartphones can be a great help to people with busy lifestyles, the issue arises when this sort of compulsive behavior does nothing to add value to life and instead takes something away from your life. We now have to ask ourselves whether we are really just wasting our time when we could be doing so much more with ourselves.

Is this what we’ve become?

Though there is a lack of research in the field of social media and mental health, there are many studies showing that an overindulgence in social media can create feelings of unhappiness and isolation. You may have been there before. Scrolling through your Instagram feed and seeing those perfectly filtered photos. An age of narcissists that (again ironically) indulge in voyeurism to possibly drown out deep self-esteem issues, all while bringing down the self-esteem of others in a dark, depressing loop. 

You pay your dues to how other people see you in life, comparing, coveting…

It’s all deeply unsettling and tragically unhealthy, to say the least. 

Our lives become the stage show of others, reality TV replaced by a sick pseudo-fantasy reality (if that’s even a word). 

We scroll through our tweets, watching the numbers go up, craving acceptance while sinners and keyboard warriors and trolls lurk in the shadows.

Blue light (emitted from your smartphone) before bedtime contributes to poor quality sleep. Feelings of loathing and self-doubt creep in as you start comparing yourself and the crappiness of your life, your blotchy skin, your moles with the picture-perfect, statuesque beings beamed at you from your screen.

A study conducted by the University of Copenhagen found that there are many Facebook users who are suffering from “Facebook envy”, making them particularly depressed. When the users were made to take a break from Facebook, they were found to be more satisfied with their lives. 

By limiting the amount of time that you spend scrolling through social media, you can let real life seep in in all its imperfect and beautiful glory. 

Spend more time with your loved ones and on loving yourself. Being connected to people in the virtual world may actually be making you lonelier

Envy is not the only thing wrong with social media. This engine of connection may actually be causing us to drift apart and to not be truly present, lost in the moment (you must have seen those pictures of a table full of people all staring at their phones). Those people around you are real, they’re living, breathing, they’re there…

Social media marketing can also be a big contributor to a toxic culture of insane consumerism. Can you blame us for becoming compulsive buyers when we’re being attacked by products through so many different channels? From CBD stores to streetwear fashion, ecommerce has permeated the platform. 

It doesn’t just stop at buying things that you don’t need or the financial difficulties that can come with that. Some people have actually reportedly improved the quality of their lives after a digital detox and global research consultancy, Kantar TNS through a study found that millennials spend about 3.8 hours a day, a day in a week and about 49 days a year on their phones, with their priorities on social media rather than on other forms of media. There are also some people who are far worse off, with two days in a week and about a hundred days in a year spent on their smartphones, playing mobile games, scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook… 

Becoming conscious is a much-needed priority and (again ironically) after the great distance that human civilization appears to have crossed in our development as a species, our amazing abilities have only really gotten us so far. 

Look at the studies. They show us that social media may be contributing to a large number of the cases of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses among the youth. 

The battle may be for acceptance or it may be for nothing at all. Whatever the case, it could just be that the battle is in our own minds and with ourselves…

A Weapon of Mass Communication – Current Trends Driving Telecom Higher


The telecommunications industry has seen and been through its fair share of revolutionary advancements and further developments. If you think about it, the telecommunications industry is one of the most global, consistently sought after industries in the world. Most people upgrade their phone to a newer version every two to three years, if not sooner. With 7.7 billion people on the planet, and most of them owning a phone, that is a significantly large turnover for cellular devices. Couple this with the fact that telecommunications technology is in a literally-constant state of evolution, and you get an industry and a consumer base that are always expecting and adapting to the most recent developments in the industry. There are various trends in the telecommunications sector, and all of them can work in alignment with one another to create what is essentially a seamless consumer experience, and ultimately a seamless global connectivity network.

The first trend currently making waves in the industry is also the one that has proven to be more than a trend – it has proven to be a constant feature in the sector. Today’s telecommunication companies have an innate focus on the customer experience, and it is that focus that is driving them to continuously higher peaks. The largest demographic that forms the telecommunications industry consumer base is now the millennial generation, as they are not only the demographic with the largest percentage of the global population, but they are the first generation to head future generations of tech-savvy, reliant consumers. As such, their opinions on the industry’s current running are more important than they have ever been before, and the telecommunications industry is more than willing to listen to them. This shift in consumer presence means that the industry has had to take note of how the world’s first digitally-impressed generation expect their communication (and their world) to operate. Customer service has always been an innate focus of many industries, the telecommunications industry included, but consumers have never been as focused on having the best of the best as they are now. They know what is the best mobile app for laundry payments, they know what food is being offered on various food delivery platforms, they know which VPN will help them stay secure. They basically they know what they can get and they want to make sure they get the best value for money. 

5G connectivity is just the first evolution of what is sure to be a constant strive for seamless technological connection and customer-experience success, and even that has sent waves of promise barrelling through the planet – and it is not even available for mainstream public consumption yet. Artificial intelligence (AI) is another trend that is currently set to significantly disrupt the telecommunications sector. 5G has many benefits, but one of its most exciting is the additional ability to take on another tech like AI. In short, AI can be used as a tool to improve how networks plan and manage themselves and their input and output. The idea is that operators will soon be able to predict customer demand ahead of time, which would ease off the use of tariffs. Additionally, it appears as if we are on the verge of augmented reality (AR) being a widespread integration into new phone models on the market. Essentially, the concept is that AR-enabled smartphones will be able to give users brand new experiences while enabling stronger, more acute personalisation in the process.

One of the biggest – and most ongoing – trends in the telecommunications industry is consumer loyalty. With so many innovations happening in the industry all the time, it can be hard for consumers to keep up with the latest and greatest that the telecommunications industry has to offer. It would be easy to assume that all telecom companies have the exact same services, products, and ideas to offer their customers, but the reality is that they do not. It is for this reason that telecom companies are in a constant battle to win consumers from their competitors, to reign in more consumers in the hope of effectively creating a stronger sense of consumer loyalty. The nature of telecommunication ensures that there will be continuous innovation and improvement, and telecom companies are the middle men, the ones charged with bridging the gap between industry know-how and consumer understanding. The companies that can give consumers the best deals, the best service, and the best access are the ones that will continue to reign as titans of industry.

Telecommunications is an industry that literally always finds itself in a constant state of evolution. As one upgrade in the system rolls through and becomes mainstream, another is right up the alley ready to wow consumers all over again. The current trends that are driving the telecommunications industry forward and to higher peaks are fine examples of the industry’s shift towards impressive and awe-inspiring levels of connectivity. From 5G bringing faster loading times and internet speed, to AI and AR turning the smartphone into a weapon of mass communication, the telecommunications industry continues to prove its unwavering value as the world’s most inter-connected industry.

Technology update in the stock market


The internet has dramatically revolutionised a number of fields, not least of all that of the financial markets. From robo-advisors to bitcoin to online banking to big data and analytics, the possibilities are endless thanks to the advent of new technologies such as AI, automation and the IoT. Simply consider that 10 years ago we were walking into a bank to deposit money while today we can wire a sum of money to an international account with the press of a button. 

Fintech’  or financial technologies is the most rapidly growing field of technology in the world today, and encompasses the technology and innovation that aims to compete with traditional financial methods in the delivery of financial services.The world of finance, including investment, has been completely and unarguably upended by fintech. And the trading of stocks and shares is no different. 

Many still associate share trading with in-person transactions on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), with all the hustle, bustle and excitement that it entails. But unfortunately for those who prefer a taste of the dramatic, share trading can now be as simple and as inhumane and un-interactive as the tapping of a button on a personal phone. 

While the NYSE still ensures that kind of visual is maintained in the eye of the stockholder, most trading today takes place privately, over computer systems owned by individuals. The trades are transacted via underground fibre-optic networks that carry messages between computer systems at banks and trading firms, into data centres that host a particular exchange’s trading engine. Apps and platforms are, it seems, the new NYSE, and there are several which are proving popular among modern traders.

Why is this, you wonder? Simply because there are typically lower costs associated with online traders, as trade commissions tend to be larger when it comes to in-person investing. For example, if you seek the help of an actual stockbroker, you can expect to pay roughly $30.99 per trade in commission. To make the same investment online, you might spend an average of $8.90. Online brokers are, in general, cheaper, mostly because they don’t have the cover the same overheads as stockbrokers who work in the more physical sense.

When it comes to finding a broker online, E-Trade is perhaps one of the best known online brokerage providers, with three different trade platforms available for users in addition to its market data, quotes, data analysis and other useful information and resources. Best of all., E-Trade offers plenty of commission-free funds. There are also broker platforms Fidelity, TD Ameritrade and Vanguard, which has an average expense ratio of just 0.10%. Interactive Brokers is another that is recognised for its low cost but comprehensive service platform. 

Next, there are platforms dedicated entirely to stock market research. From Tradespoon (which offers a 7 day free trial) to, Yewno|Edge, TradingView and The Motley Fool Stock Advisor, there is no shortage of online tools and resources for analysing the stock market; assessing a company’s annual report performance, for example, and its annual return on investment (ROI). It’s now possible to access a wide range of stock market analysis tools online, such as stock screeners – which scan the entire market to give you information on average trading volume, price, chart patterns and so forth – charting software, and stock simulators. 

Now onto the platforms and websites that actually allow individuals to sidestep the broker and directly buy shares themselves. Apps like Robinhood Trading have made it easier than ever to access stock market trading, making it accessible to new types of traders with lower amounts of wealth than previous traders. That being said, RobinHood Trading doesn’t give traders access to a full range of investments like mutual funds, but it certainly works great for stocks and ETFs, and it recently added support for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. 

Acorns, however, is the app that is best for complete beginners with no idea how to go about the trading of shares. It describes itself as a site for ‘investing your spare change’, implying that there is no such thing as too small a trade. It’s so easy that once your bank account is linked, Acorns will track your regular spending and “round up” purchases to the nearest dollar, which is then used to make small investments via Acorns. It also automatically builds users a portfolio of stock and bond investments based on a brief questionnaire, helping build users a diverse, broad portfolio in line with their investment goals.

Between the countless apps, websites and downloadable digital tools that help traders invest in shares with more efficiency than ever before possible, it’s no wonder that a growing percentage of the approximate $US5,100,000,000,000 traded daily is traded online. 

Navigating high speed internet providers’ spectrum of services


In the United States, there are approximately 2675 internet service providers (ISPs) providing various types of internet services categorized based on the means through which data is transferred.  The state of New York currently has 41 internet providers, and it is the 4th most connected state amongst the others. In most states, consumers are able to access to a variety of types of internet services, including DSL, cable, fiber and satellite-based internet services, each of those has its own defining features. Hence, confusion often arises when it comes to choosing one from these internet services, the process of which can be made simpler by understanding how the Internet works and how these services differ from one to another. Spectrum is the second largest internet provider in the United States. Spectrum is accessible to approximately 102.7 million people and provides both cable and fibre internet services. Its tiered pricing system is easy to understand, and it is what makes them stand out from the other competitors. They utilize a hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network to deliver wired broadband services. 

The Internet is a massive network of interconnected devices for data transmission purposes by means of the use of various types of wires, cables and antennas, alongside other types of devices forming part of the overall network infrastructure. Most computers come with built-in TCP/IP network capability. TCP/IP, which is Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol in full, is the language of the Internet. Comprising of four distinct layers, it is a set of standardized rules that enable TCP/IP-enabled computers on a network to communicate. Software programs interact with the application layer, the first layer, on which one can find numerous application protocols, including SMTP, FTP, HTTP and so forth. Different programs communicate with different application protocols, depending on the purposes of the programs. 

On the second layer, known as the transport layer, data sent from the first layer is divided into packets and these packets are delivered to the third layer, called the Internet Layer. On this layer, the assigned Internet Protocol (IP) gets the packets from the second layer and adds virtual address information, which is the IP addresses of the sender and receiver. The packets are then sent to the fourth layer. The fourth layer is the network interface layer that gets the packets, called datagrams on this layer, and deliver them over the network. Between two computers, the speed of datagram sending and receiving is affected by two factors, bandwidth and latency. Bandwidth is the maximum number of bits that can be transferred per unit time. Whereas, latency is the amount of time it requires for a datagram to travel from the source to the destination. Theoretically, the size of a TCP datagram is approximately 64 bytes. 

Currently, consumers in the U.S. are able to choose from a number of kinds of internet services, ranging from DSL to satellite-based services, with each of these available types having its own pros and cons. DSL stands for digital subscriber line and is a type of connection that transfers data through a telephone network via a telephone cable consisting of twisted-pair copper wires. It is the most famous connection globally. However, it has a low bandwidth with a high latency, offering download speeds in the range of 5 to 35 Mbps, with the upload speeds being in the 1 to 10 Mbps range. The main advantage of this connection type is that it is often the cheapest internet service in comparison with the others. 

Another type of connection is known as a cable connection. It transmits data through a cable television network via a coaxial copper cable. This connection is faster than DSL and highly reliable, with a higher bandwidth and lower latency. However, it sometimes slows down during peak hours due to the arrangement of its network infrastructure and is generally more expensive than a DSL connection. In terms of a wired internet connection, a fiber optic connection is the fastest and a relatively new type of internet connection. Having the highest bandwidth and lowest latency, it transfers data through a fiber optic network, offering download and upload speeds up to 1,000 Mbps. However, it is comparatively the most expensive alternative. 

In areas where wired connections are unavailable, connecting to the Internet is possible through a satellite connection. Data is transferred from one computer wirelessly through the connected satellite dish to the provider’s satellite spacecraft, and the signal then bounces back from the satellite spacecraft to the provider’s satellite dish. However, with the lowest bandwidth and highest latency, it is considered as the slowest and most unreliable internet connection, and the maximum bandwidth that it can achieve is only around 25 Mbps. 

The fiber optic internet is currently the fastest internet service available. However, cable connections are still widely used by Americans due to their affordability and performance. When choosing an internet service provider, it is necessary to ascertain your budget constraints, speed requirements and connection reliability expectations. Considering these factors during the selection process will help you opt for one that you will not regret in future. 

Can restaurants survive the era of delivery services?

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The food and beverage industry that spans the globe is one that has quite an impact in so many different ways. This is an industry that has been important from the very beginning, and it is an industry that will continue to be important going into the future. The latest evolution of the food and beverage industry, however, is arguably one of the most important to date. This is an evolution that has been around for a few years now, but is still effectively kicking into high gear.

Even (and especially) today, the food and beverage industry is in a current state of transition. Now that we live in the beginnings of the digital era, where modern marvels like the Internet and ecommerce reign supreme, it is inevitable that these modern marvels start making their impact in the world around us and the industries that make up the global society. With the Internet and ecommerce comes the influence in industries like the food and beverage industry that are geared towards transforming to realign with the way the world is moving.

For the food and beverage industry specifically, the rise of the delivery service has been the overarching answer to establishing and successfully achieving that realignment. So, the question remains: can restaurants and other establishments within the food and beverage industry survive the era of delivery services? This is a question that no matter which way you approach it, can literally have an answer that is split in half. And that is essentially exactly what has happened in this instance. The appeal of sharing an experience is the heart and soul of the food and beverage industry. So much so, in fact, that through every evolution in the industry, this has always remained the core contributing factor. Now, that core is remaining true but is beginning to be forced into a kind of collaboration where sharing the experience is more about convenience than it is about the experience itself.

That is why delivery services like Uber and Deliveroo has grown so fast; they provide a solution that allows diners to have the optimal convenience and efficiency of enjoying the meal they want, without having to have the commitment of going out of their way to get dressed up and travel to a selected destination to have that experience.

From the change in consumer habits to delivery apps, there is a digital transformation going on in the food and beverage industry that is certainly powered forward by consumers’ growing demand for convenience and efficiency above the experience of going to a venue. This is the new norm in the food and beverage industry. It is an intriguing paradox, because while restaurants and cafes and the like are indeed getting more business through these delivery services, they are also missing the opportunity to provide their customers the full experience of the venue ambience, atmosphere, great customer service and interaction with others.

To properly understand one side of the argument, it is important to understand both sides. On the one hand, there are those who firmly believe that the rise of the delivery service field in the food and beverage industry means that restaurants and the like will inevitably begin to fade away. With convenience comes the realisation that this is easier, and this is the power of the delivery service field. So the point of this argument is: adapt or die. On the other hand, however, are individuals who believe that a mix service (delivery and on-site) and collaborative efforts that are more fairly sectioned out are the answer to the survival of restaurants and other food and beverage institutions. In this argument, brick and mortar and online delivery will co-exist.

It is interesting, because the delivery service field has not necessarily taken work away from restaurants and the like, but it has definitely taken a significant cut of their margins on the argument that is has brought new business. Realistically, no side of the argument is entirely right and no side of the argument is entirely wrong. In addition, this whole argument support itself of the fact that the app delivery businesses are running on a loss in the attempt to capture market share. Whether these businesses will be able to sustain itself with the revenue it produces, and where all parties are winning, is yet to be seen.

Regardless of what side of the argument one stand, the recommendation is always to embrace change and make the best of it. If people are going online to order food, why not setup a catering software with your own online ordering website? If most people are ordering online why not operate a catering kitchen (also known as Dark Kitchen) and save on expensive retail rent? In other words, with the current changes in the food industry new opportunities will arise. So why not use this momentum to re-evaluate, adapt and take advantage of the digital era?

The food and beverage industry is one of the most enduring and inspiring industries. Throughout the decades, this is an industry that has proven time and again exactly how necessary and special it is. There have been many great evolutions in food and beverages, and each of them have come hand in hand with their own unique impacts. The current evolution sweeping throughout the global food and beverage industry is one of the most powerful ones. The digital era has brought with it innovations like the Internet and ecommerce. In the food and beverage industry, this newly emerging era has also introduced the delivery service and ability for food businesses without a physical establishment to sell online. At this point in time, it is difficult to accurately determine if restaurants and the like will adapt and survive or even grown through the opportunities generated by the current digital transformation. Time will tell.

Successful Data Collection Begins with Intended Use, Security and Reputable Hosts


Each year technology advances making life easier for businesses and consumers. As technology continues to grow, it becomes an inseparable part of life. Changing the way people live their life, even undertaking mundane, routine tasks like going into a bank or purchasing a coffee relies on a complex web of interconnected transactions taking place on a multitude of devices and points of presence. In the old days, the cumbersome paper trail was the only way to keep records and interact with customers. Even basic tasks like queuing for your bank teller would entail signing your name on paper, waiting to be called up to the desk, explaining the purpose of your visit and then being able to receive the service. This paper trail has been uploaded, where these manual processes took manual intervention and time, it all now happens in the cloud, on your device on some other device or is automated in many ways. Still, this data needs to be collected for optimisation and improvement. Allowing a customer to get to the point of service of quicker, and hopefully, with greater satisfaction. Some areas of technology like mobile data collection helps to alleviate wait times.

The ubiquity and access that consumers have to mobile devices is a small example of how huge amounts of data can be collected. This fact of our modern age has catalyzed data collection has significantly changed the way consumers and businesses store information; how much is stored; for what purposes and how the public perceive the importance of their digital footprint. It is of utmost importance to choose wisely in trusted providers when it comes to web hosting service that store, manage and serve applications, digital environments and data.

With the ability to mass store and recall information on-demand, it becomes easier to use the data to inform key business decisions. That is, as long as it’s efficiently stored and organized at point of ingest. Nowadays, when walking into some stores, customers can type their name out into a tablet and this helps to directly send the information to store associates. When it comes to rewards cards, retailers can just type in a phone number, and customer information is pulled so they associated can input necessary rewards or update any changed information.

Instead of writing information down, now it can be inputted and stored on your smartphone. Often this data if handed off to data organisation tool like that’s synced across a multitude of device. The always on device also send out location, logs your times at a location and types of activity. Big data companies use this information to calculate store footfall, waiting times, sift through data on commonly asked questions about the place of business. This is all to ensure that the customer has access to the right service, at the right time without interruption.

In the back-office, data collection helps to save time and the environment. Many offices now run paperless. Instead of putting paper in employee mailboxes, or recording unshareable notes or insights, employees from management to sales clerk can access a stream of constantly updated information regarding their operational practices and any important incentives. Reducing the need of paper, ink and office supplies has a significant impact on an organisation’s carbon footprint and opens up the gates to unfettered collaboration and total transparency: inviting colleagues to work together and have oversight of shared folders, documents and processes. In most agile organisations, all this information is stored in the cloud and now links have replaced post it notes. We share ideas through messages using embedded links to our complete thoughts and works.

A large concern used to be space to hold paper files. Now filing cabinets have turned into digital documents filed in folders within folders. All of these files may still be stored and organized in a similar manner as filing cabinets, it just takes up hard drive and cloud space rather than a room full of gray and beige metal cabinets.

Our treatment of data has not changed. The method we utilise to store and organise it has. The fact that this can be served up on-demand and at lightning speeds has now enabled businesses, small and large to act on this information very quickly. Utilizing this data collection at, for example retail locations, users can answer questions to provide feedback to the retailer about their service experience or reason for stopping by. It allows businesses to maintain customer care information. By asking for a location information (as many apps and online services now do), retail marketers can see where customers are located and from there develop marketing campaigns targeted in certain regions or demographics.

Mobile apps have strength to reach large global audiences bringing the human experience to an interactive global communication process. By requesting survey information from app users, it again allows marketers to further understand their audience. Marketing used to be something as simple as telling consumers about a product and making it seem appealing. However, with as advanced as marketing technology has become with data collection and interpretation, it now becomes something that is more of a social science than anything else. By reviewing the scientific data collected in what audiences want, marketers can determine appropriate, targeted, messaging and content backed up by unarguable data in application interaction, surveyed content and explicit feedback.

Data collection is a mutually beneficial relationship between the user and the creators. By learning more about the application users, marketing managers, creative teams, and app creators are able to provide a more efficient and user-friendly product. This is an effective communication process between the app sender and user receiver.

A growing concern and awareness apparent in the zeitgeist of our time is how much data is collected, is that data sensitive information and how is that used. This seems to be especially pertinent to those against profiting off of sharing this information especially when consent has not been explicitly granted. In addition to this, with the rise of ever more sophisticated public security breaches, tech users (which is not effectively everyone) are becoming increasingly aware that harmful hackers may potentially gain access to their data information and use it against them for identity theft or something similarly harmful. To eliminate this worry, it’s important for companies that want to utilize data collection to maintain continual heightened security. As technology advances, the security embedded in it should be equally advanced. By providing and promising customer protection, it allows consumers to become trustworthy and reliant on the businesses who collect their data. The effort of the app creators to maintain heightened security will enhance their credibility and positive brand awareness.

Before data collection, it is crucial that companies are transparent in providing a consent agreement. Some companies are not so transparent in their terms and agreements and this could cause an upset later on when consumers did not initially want their data to be collected. It’s also important to be transparent in what data is actually collected. By being fully transparent, customers and application managers are able to have a professional understanding of what is expected and collected from both parties.

Data collection is meant to be helpful, not harmful. If done properly, data insights can benefit service users and service providers. It’s important to maintain updated communication between the creators and platform users. As data collection becomes the major way companies collect customer information, learning how to benefit all stakeholders will be key to the success of the creator and enhanced experience of the user.