I recently had to sprint to make the next Luas which was fast approaching in three minutes. Arriving at the platform with one minute to spare I was greeting by a small queue of two people, still plenty of time to purchase a ticket one would think. The first customer fumbled with their change resulting in their fare forcefully being slotted in the vending machine repeatedly. The second customer didn’t seem to recall the ‘no copper change’ rule. As a shuffled from foot to foot, deeply troubled at the speed at which these transactions were happening a thought struck me, ‘wouldn’t it be easier to just jump on the Luas and pay via my phone on route’.

Not exactly an Einstein thought provoking theory but it did start me thinking about the challenges and limitations we still face using our smart phones as a financial tool that soon may no longer be. Some experts say the credit card, and maybe even the physical wallet, could be extinct in the near future . How funny to think the wallet may be the next typewriter in a few years, objects we simply do not use anymore.


Using one’s handset as a financial tool, or the mobile wallet is an interesting concept which is becoming increasingly popular. Not only does it allow users on the move to access financial accounts, but also plays an integral part in the development of digital commerce and banking.

I read recently in the Digital Times that British Banks Royal Bank of Scotland and Natwest have launched a system whereby customers can withdraw cash from an ATM using a code from their phone rather a bank card. The Smartphone app called ‘Get Cash’ allows users to request up to £100 by entering a six-digit code generated through the Smartphone into the ATM. What a novel idea! Imagine the possibilities where this app would help avoid a mini crisis, a stolen wallet abroad, you left your wallet at home and want to buy the weekly shop or simply just want to help a friend in trouble. The rules being codes will be valid for three hours and the people withdrawing the cash would not be able to take out more or less then the specified amount.

Ubiquity, instancy, bank-grade security and utility all play a part in making consumers increasingly active in using financial services via mobile not to mention convenience. It seems hard to believe that less than a year ago mobile banking Smartphone facilities were not available to Irish consumers. Nowadays customers can check their account balance, view mini statements, make payments, and make mobile top ups. Mobile banking has become so popular that independent research has shown that UK consumers with mobile money apps check their accounts on average 16 times a month – three times as often as those who log in to internet banking.

However it’s not just Mobile banking that is driving the rise of the whole money mobile industry. High expectations from consumers command more functions, faster speed and interoperability with other mobile-supporting platforms. Near field communication (NFC) is a technology provider that makes life easier and more convenient for consumers around the world by making it simpler to make transactions, exchange digital content, and connect electronic devices with a touch. While this technology opens up the possibility of tapping or waving a mobile to pay for goods, mass commercial rollouts remains slow.  The main reasons proving the complexity for service providers such as banks, mobile network operators and retailers of supporting a range of devices, with integrated bank-grade security applications.

There is no question we are in the midst of a fast-growing and dynamically innovative industry as three factors align: explosive growth in mobile data, convergence of mobile banking and mobile payments, and the rise of mobile commerce. The next few years will be extremely exciting for the mobile wallet; I look forward to reading about the formation of larger alliances and deeper ecosystems between financial services, retail and mobile.

Mostly, I look forward to not having to run for a Luas knowing I can get on!



Failure to Communicate

June 18, 2012

I read recently in Campaign about how the British Government have restructured what was the COI (Central Office of Information) into the Government Communication Centre.  It all sounded quite dull actually and seemed to get a qualified acceptance from Ad land that if nothing else “the new system can’t be any worse than the chaos we have at the moment”. This side of the Irish Sea we have our own version of organised chaos I suppose, so on one level we can congratulate ourselves that our approach appears to be no worse than anyone else’s (and in fairness this can be an intricate and complicated space) but like any other system certainly has room for improvement.

What frustrates me as someone who plies his trade in Ad land is the failure of successive governments in embracing the advertising community in trying to solve some of our country’s ills. Most government interaction with the advertising community appears to be at arm’s length, is infused with a lack of understanding (often on both sides) and is largely confined to an exchange of written submissions around the pros and cons of advertising regulation, the most high profile of which, alcohol restrictions, is a case in point. I don’t think you’d find many people in Ireland who argue that we as a nation have a dysfunctional (he said politely) relationship with alcohol. We frequently read about the negative knock on effects be it societal violence, the  impact on the health of our nation and when the two come together the ability of our health service providers to do an already difficult job in the most testing of conditions. Imagine what it would be like trying to do a simple task like typing an e-mail with a drunkard shouting abuse at you, let alone attempting to provide medical assistance. The health debate rages further as my radio tells me this morning that most of us are overweight and alcohol plays a significant role in the reasons why. Then there is the counter argument that alcohol is part of who we are, the fact that we are the land of the ‘Cead mile failte’, that we can have the ‘craic’ and that despite Roy Keane’s aspersions any football tournament in the world is very much the better for the performance of Irish fans, if not necessarily our teams. That’s before we mention the positive impact of sponsorship revenues from the alcohol companies that touch most sporting organisations in the land. The debate can and does rage on, far beyond my own rambling paragraph above.

To me, the knight in shining armour for Ireland and our dysfunctional relationship with alcohol is communication. But not through curtailment and regulation (these have a role, don’t get me wrong, but the impact of regulation only goes so far). It is through engaging the advertising community to do what it does best. Influence long term habitual change. Guess what? This doesn’t happen overnight. This won’t happen by accident. This won’t happen when the responsibility for relaying the message lies with the drinks industry. The government need to get together a crack team of communication experts who can devise a long term strategy (and I mean long term). A strategy that evolves over the next 20 years that helps us as a nation grow up. We’re doing it the hard way at the moment filling the holes that the banks left behind.  Next up should be our relationship with alcohol. If governments looked beyond their own twitter accounts and trying to mimic Barrack online to get re-elected and looked at how they communicate our stance on some social ills, our country would be the better for it. The government and it’s agencies spent around €50 million on advertising last year.  We can all pick holes in the way any sum of money is spent. Guess what? A lot of it was spent really well, led by great marketers within the state sector. Give some of this people a brief and  budget , sit back, enjoy your next pint in the knowledge that our children and grandchildren will enjoy their future relationship with alcohol in a collectively more considered way that we are currently collectively all guilty of.




Recently our friends at Amarch Research posted a market up-date on smartphone and tablet penetration in Ireland.  We all found the up-date really useful and thought it was well worth sharing.  The video really confirms what we already knew, that both smartphone and tablet penetration is on the increase in Ireland.  However, it’s put in a really clear, simple and informative format which we hope you’ll enjoy!



Many brands look to associate themselves with sports and sports men and women, to tie in with the emotions that people invest in sport. It allows them to connect with consumers in a way that no other type of marketing can. With the Olympics coming this summer, TV advertising has taken on a new theme. Ads for products not traditionally linked to sport such as credit cards, shampoo, dishwasher powder and more have all followed sports drinks trends and taken to having connections with the Olympics. However, in Ireland, the Olympics will not be the biggest event of the summer. That event starts for Ireland this week in Poznan, Poland, in the 2012 European championships and we have already seen many brands and products attempt to associate themselves with the event and tap into the emotions that will be felt by thousands here during that time. From members of the squad staring in TV commercials to the multitude of brands giving away tickets to Poland, or even giving you the means to get there, to electric stores, dvd rental stores, alcohol brands and newspapers, this is a key time for brands to connect with a passionate audience or to simply piggyback on the biggest event of the summer. Brands that do it well can be a part of life long memories and the side note to stories that will be told forevermore. After all, what other walk of life can you scream with excitement at the top of your voice in public? 3 Mobile could well benefit from the next 30 years of replays of an Irish player stroking home a winning penalty.

ITV have taken a key insight of England supporters, the ‘what if’ question, and came up with the idea for a short piece entitled ‘ITV Dreams’ to highlight their coverage of the upcoming championships. In it, they remake famous failures in recent England football history and re-create them with a different outcome. One example is not missing in a penalty shootout to Germany, a match they actually lost on spotkicks in 1996. This taps in to the emotional element of sport while putting ITV forward as a real fan. They are showing that they know exactly how everyone felt at the time. Internationally, Pepsi Max and Nike have released their biennial big budget pieces which arrive just as the excitement builds in the weeks before an international tournament. My favourite is Nike’s ‘My time is now’ campaign featuring a match between the Dutch and French teams that gets hijacked by a mix of international stars including some from reigning world and European champions Spain. This video does not just consist of the usual smattering of famous footballers, but also has a series of 9 ‘tunnels’ that are hidden throughout the film. Find one of the tunnels and it takes you on a separate journey, showing you videos related to Nike products, Ronaldo’s fitness regime, a video explaining how Nike jerseys are created from 90% recycled plastic, a site where you can buy international kits and even Facebook integration where you can visit the Nike barber and give yourself a footballer’s haircut to share with your friends. The video has spread to football fans online through various social media outlets such as forums, showing that viral ads are still a powerful tool in digital marketing. So famous have these regular Nike ads become, with their range of top quality footballers of the time, that some see these ads as the start to the official countdown to the games. All this, without even having to mention a tournament. That’s when you know that you understand your audience, and that you have an association.




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