This blog post was written by Michael Scanlan, CCgroup
In 1975, the German electronic band, Kraftwerk, appeared on Tomorrow’s World playing Autobahn while the voiceover explained how they used their ever-so modern synthesisers to create music. At the end, the voiceover soberly predicted that the following year they would dispense with keyboards altogether and wear jackets with electronic lapels that they would play instead.
Earlier this year, I saw Kraftwerk in concert and they were still using synths. What I did see, though, was an excited gig goer tweeting about the performance on his watch. Wearable tech did come true, it would appear.
Commentators, investors and innovators are constantly searching for the next big thing and, right now, wearable technology is causing a lot of chatter. But what is it?
Put simply, it’s any kind of computer or advanced electronic technology you can wear. Remember the Casio calculator watches of the 1980s? That was wearable tech. Those baseball caps with built in radios? If you are feeling charitable, that was wearable tech too.
Recently, though, it’s taken a great leap forward. There are watches that double up as mobile phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy Gear and Google Glass. But what is the relevance for FinTech?
I’m the owner of a rather natty little watch with a SIM card in it that’s linked to a prepaid MasterCard®. I load up the card with money and scan the watch against NFC readers to pay for things. I’ve only used it once and I will admit to getting some funny looks. However, it is useful – easy to use and makes paying that bit less painful. And that’s probably the main thing.
The question is, though, what makes FinTech wearables stop being gadgets and start being indispensable to our everyday financial lives? Five years ago, the smart-phone was a gadget. Today I couldn’t imagine life without it. Why?
Because it’s helped me do the things I need (or want) to do in my day to day life on the move. It’s added value to my life, it provides utility.
That’s what FinTech wearables will have to do if they are to be elevated to the lofty plains of “useful”.
The company behind my watch are pretty hot at innovation and I’ve no reason to doubt that their payment watch is just the beginning. The potential of wearable tech is huge, especially if we look at it as part of a convergence between the Cloud, the internet of things and big data.
You’re probably wondering what all this has to do with communications. Quite a lot actually.
We’ll shortly be releasing the results from our survey into what makes large financial institutions select a vendor. One of the key findings is that these institutions value vendors who offer unique market insight and can help identify potential landmines and opportunities. FinTech companies need to develop thought leadership that demonstrates they can deliver on this.
For example, there is an Apple shaped fly in the wearable tech ointment. For some time, the Apple iWatch has been predicted. Commentators excitedly wonder when it will come out. Tomorrow? Next year? What will it do? What will it look like? And, for those who care about the FinTech angle, will it finally be NFC equipped so it can be used as a payment device? Or will is use other, potentially, disruptive technologies?
FinTech companies that can cut through this type of complexity and help customers and prospects navigate the implications of disruptive technologies like wearables will be successful.
So, as a FinTech PR professional, “useful” is my watchword for wearable FinTech. It’s the counsel I’ll give clients and the caution I’ll give commentators: “Will it be genuinely useful? Is it a solution that solves a real problem?”
This filter will help our clients deliver market insight and also ensure that any products or services are suitably vetted before becoming public.
If the answer is “yes”, then let’s go and change the world. It it’s “no”, I’ll go back to trying to get a tune from my jacket.