Intuitive Technology: Where will wearables take us?

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WED, 17 SEP 2014

There is a surge of optimism in the UK that financial services are finally being disrupted by technology, the phenomenon is explored by Nick Moules in the Guardian. The article confirms financial services lag behind other industries in being structurally changed by financial services technology (or Fintech). As a glass half full man, I disagree and would cite Smile Bank’s disruption of high street banking in 1999 as a very early, internet age example of Fintech. Equally, Accenture (cited in Gov.uk) confirms that the UK is now the fastest growing region for Fintech investment, raising $700m in start-up capital between 2008-13.

The way in which technology and digital change the rules, create competition by providing a conduit by which clever start-ups can take on the establishment is inspiring. By finding a better way, normally born out of frustration at how things currently work, it serves to drive better products and services for us all. A classic example is the peer-to-peer market where Fintech firms such as TransferWise and Crowdcube are making noise. TransferWise allows people to transfer money abroad more cheaply by connecting people looking to exchange currency in both directions (i.e. euros to pounds and pounds to euros). It’s not just about convenience but quality too, if you care to check customer satisfaction ratings in banking, you’ll find First Direct at the top of the pile by a country mile.

So, like all digital enthusiasts, I followed the Apple Live event on 9 September 2014 announcing the launch of the iPhone 6, Apple Watch and the Apple Pay system. The launch appears to have been well received, although U2 dampened my mood. To an extent, it feels like Apple has gone from innovator to follower by entering the Phablet and Smartwatch market, already inhabited by Samsung and Google Pay. When Jobs launched the iPad, the tablet was born. I did however enjoy some of the musings on Twitter concerning the Watch:

1st tweet image - ellen d2nd tweet image- chase jarvis

The latest instalment of the iPhone will no doubt provide continuous improvement on the iterations of the iPhone 5, rather than life changing innovation but the Apple Watch and Apple Pay are signposts for the future. I must confess to not being a wearable tech convert – my mobile phone has been in my left pocket for many years, did I unwittingly create wearable tech? In an age where smartphones have increased in size, evidenced by Apples launch of the iPhone 6 phablet (a 5.5 in screen), how will core functions translate to a watch?

The most interesting aspect of the launch is Apple Pay and Google’s equivalent, Google Wallet. Returning to my pockets, I suspect there may soon be a void in my right pocket where my wallet currently resides. Its replacement will be in my left hand pocket – my smartphone. The days of physical money and even bank cards are limited.

So, will a clever start up ever disrupt the platform market? In many respects Nutmeg has already shown that it can be done on the ISA wrapper. I think it’s a matter of when, rather than if. Millennials have grown up with rapid technological advancement and that is sure to shape how all products and services, including financial products, are designed in the future.

How will the platform of the future look in say fifteen years? The possibilities are endless. If you go back fifteen years, platforms and a smart devices were not even a concept as I prepared to party like it’s 1999. Nonetheless, Generation Y is a generation of information seekers, growing up knowing that knowledge is only a few clicks away so whatever the future holds it’s got to be user-centric.

Any opinions given are those of the individual writing this blog and not necessarily those of James Hay Partnership