BOOK REVIEW: Digital Human by Chris Skinner

The fourth revolution of humanity includes everyone and this book explains how we’re all likely to be involved.












There is only one thing wrong with this truly awesome book by Chris Skinner about technology and that is the title – Digital Human. This book covers so much more than what sounds like just-another-book-about-the-so-called-future.

The author knows his stuff, but his stuff is not only general, it focuses on the future of money, the fall of banks and the revolution that he knows is going to happen.

I’ve met the author and he is a modest, humble and deep guy who clearly cares about the future and the best way to deal with it. In print (which is the best way to read this book) he writes clearly and smartly; I read Digital Human in three sittings.

As somebody who has shared podcasting with Skinner a couple of times, I’ve always been impressed by his knowledge of FinTech and here it shines through, not least his understanding (and respect) of what is happening in Chinese FinTech, an area that deserves much more exposure.

He acknowledges a debt and respect to Yuval Noah Hariri and his best-selling books Sapiens and Homo Deus, but this is a different book, albeit worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as Hariri’s works of brilliance.

There are a couple of interesting stories here about early money, prostitution and the etymology of the word ‘whore’ and ‘harlot during the Sumerian Empire, but that’s just for the populists.

Skinner is about to embark on some serious travelling around Africa to find more stories about life and banking for what will presumably be his next book, I can only envy him both projects.

Sometimes it’s difficult to praise fellow-writers, especially when they are known to each other, but in this case it’s easy. Digital Human may well be a terrible title, but this is a terrific book; for those in the the know and those who aren’t.

Let’s hope they change the title when the paperback comes out.

You can read the first chapter here for free.

If that whets your whistle and wets your appetite and you’ve had enough of my misguided and false Spoonerisms, you can buy the book here.

Barclaycard’s contactless Pay @ Pump ends beer queues

Finally FinTech launches a product that will make a real difference, a self-pouring contactless payment beer pump! No more waiting at the bar.

pumpBarclaycard has launched a contactless, self-pouring beer pump prototype Pay @ Pump.

The prototype has been designed to help bars and pubs reduce queuing time for customers buying drinks during busy periods such as Christmas.

The innovation was brewed up in response to one in four Brits getting the “bar humbugs” when it takes too long to get served. The brand new Pay @ Pump prototype lets consumers purchase a pint of ale in three quick and easy steps – order, pay and pour – that can be carried out in just 60 seconds.

As somebody who is prepared to commit murder when waiting more than a minute at a bar, especially at a gig, this is the first FinTech product that interests me in the slightest. According to Barclaycard, the average waiting time at the bar during the festive party season is 12 minutes per order. TWELVE. FUCKING. MINUTES.

The contactless beer pump turns purchasing a pint of beer into three quick and easy steps – “order, pay and pour” – that can be carried out by the customer in just 60 seconds.

How Pay @ Pump works:
1. Order: select your pint of ale via the Pay @ Pump touchscreen
2. Pay: touch your contactless card or device at the base of the pump
3. Pour: place your pint glass at the base of the pump, triggering the drink to dispense automatically following successful payment

Ordering a drink, of course, is a work of art involving flirting, catching the barperson’s eye without being too aggressive and intelligent use of elbows and body space. With pay @ pump, we may also be seeing the end of the barman and the barmaid as we know it. That’s not good. You can’t talk to a pump when you’re lonely and the bar/pub is empty.

However, given the continual rise of ‘touch and go’ payments across the UK, with figures from the latest Barclaycard Contactless Spending Index revealing that spending leapt 173% by value and 112% by volume in the year to the end of October 2016, this can only be the future.

At present, the product is only in the prototype stage and was trialled earlier this week at Henry’s Café and Bar in London’s Piccadilly. Moreover, ale is the recommended product, rather than lager, which is more heavily carbonated and prone to producing a larger head on the drink.

Decent idea, let’s see hope it takes off. Cheers!

UK investment in FinTech up 35% to $901 million

UK investment for FinTech firms increased by 35% to $901million across 72 deals in 2015, according to Innovate Finance, the not-for-profit membership association for global FinTech.

In the UK, the FinTech industry is booming.

In the UK, the FinTech industry is booming.

The rise in UK investment was led by large funding rounds from Funding Circle, Transferwise, WorldRemit, eToro, RateSetter, Azimo, The Currency Cloud, MoneyFarm and Seedrs.

In 2015 global VC investment in the UK kept pace with 2014, with lower deal volume indicating a trend of larger deal sizes globally. There were 860 deals globally, attracting $12.5 billion in investment.

The UK attracted the highest volume of deals outside the US and third in terms of total investment behind US and China. Of the Top 20 global deals, two were from the UK – Atom Bank, which secured $125 million and Funding Circle, which raised $150 million.

The highest proportion of deals was in the $1-$5 million category globally. Funding Circle, Atom Bank, Ebury Partners, Transferwise and World Remit round up the Top 5 FinTech deals – all more than $50 million.

More than 60% of the UK VC investment in FinTech was in the peer-to-peer, alternative finance and payment and remittance segments, with challenger banks pushing investment volume to over 74%. The balance of investment was spread across Wealth Management (Robo-Advice), Capital Markets, Data Analytics, crowdfunding, and a number of emerging categories.

““One of the big trends in 2015 was investment in FinTech by financial institutions in incubators, accelerators, labs, talent, partnerships, digital M&A, and corporate venture funds. A couple of years ago, entrepreneurs in the community were looking for introductions to VCs. Last year, they were interested in introductions to institutions”, said Lawrence Wintermeyer, CEO of Innovate Finance.

London’s history and tradition as the home of global banking is doubtlessly responsible for this influx of capital, but with other global cities innovating in peer-2-peer, this investment will need to continue if London is to stay ahead of that oft-mentioned curve.

UK tech firms smash venture capital funding record

london tech

The UK’s technology sector raised more than $3.6 billion in 2015, according to figures from by London & Partners, the Mayor of London’s ‘promotional’ company.

The investment represents an increase of more than 70% on the record amount raised in 2014 ($2.1 billion). London-based tech companies raised a record $2.28 billion during the period, representing a 69% increase on the $1.3 billion raised in 2014.

Analysis of VC investment by London & Partners shows that since 2010 UK tech companies have collectively raised almost $10 billion with London-based companies accounting for more than half of the total ($5.2 billion).

Mayor of London Boris Johnson MP said: “With a flourishing tech scene and one of the world’s leading financial centres, it is no surprise to see that London’s tech companies are attracting record levels of investment. Our world-class talent pool and our culture of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit are helping the sector to grow from strength to strength.

London’s booming FinTech sector has also continued to secure record funding during 2015. The sector accounted for almost a quarter of all investment raised by London-based tech companies. Some of the largest FinTech deals this year include: Zopa ($106m), TransferWise ($58m) and WorldRemit ($100m).

In April 2015, London-based peer-to-peer lending company, Funding Circle secured the largest single deal of the year with a $150m funding round led by DST Global. Last year was also a strong one for the UK’s ecommerce sector, with a number of companies featuring in the top ten deals including: FarFetch ($86m), ($60m) and Secret Escapes ($60m).

Investment into London’s technology sector has been boosted by a growing number of venture capital houses choosing to setup funds and operations in London. In October 2015 Octopus Ventures announced a $140m London based fund, joining the likes of Passion Capital, Index Ventures and Hoxton Ventures who already have a presence in London and have chosen the capital as a strategic base to invest in European technology start-ups.

£175K on offer to start-ups and brands at Digital Innovation Showcase

Matt Sansam is digital industries consultant and programme manager for the Technology Strategy Board

He tweets here and the IC tomorrow website is here


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