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Noel Moran Ceo of Prepaid Financial Services Leading the field in the Multi Billion Dollar Prepaid Cards Market Global Trade and Euroexim Bank / Artificial Intelligence on Smartphones / Latest in Fintech / Iot and Technology Evolution / Blockchain Revolution / Goldfingr Deal Club / Caribbean Focus / Suntours Ceo-David Weatherson / USA and Colorado Focus / Bermuda FDI / Henley Business School


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Table of Contents



CEO Movers and Shakers


Latest Technological Gadgets 2019




Top 5 solutions to keep your business’


European Business catches up with Professor Andrew Kakabadse


Doing Business in the Age of Disruption


We talk to Graham Bright

finances in check


Facilitating Global Trade

A Newly Ordered World


IoT and The Technology Evolution


David Weatherson, CEO of SunTours Caribbean


Business Travellers Discover the

Jewellery from the Napoleonic Era 28

European Business caught up with the founder and CEO Rob Charles

Caribbean and its ‘Bleisure’ Trips 31

Investing in the US: The Three Major Players


Artificial Intelligence in the Banking Sector:


Bermuda’s Civil Aviation: Historic Milestones and Highest Standards

How, Where and What to Expect 36

Work Smarter, Not Harder


Blockchain’s Knock on Effect


The Impact of Artificial Intelligence


Investing in Paradise


Cryptocurrency: The Bubble is Over, It’s Time to Go Mainstream


on Smartphones 42

a Jumpstart on Global Expansion

The World Beyond Cash: Prepaid Popularity


Crowdfunding – From Niche to Mainstream


Netherlands and Its flourishing Startup System

Noel Moran


Data centres and Digital Strategies

Executive Coaching: Finding The Right Choice


The New Age of Social Media

Skyrockets 44


SelectUSA Tech: Helping Startups Get

European Business Magazine Catches up with





Publishers Note

Publisher Nick Staunton


nother issue of European Business Magazine published and nearly three years later, Brexit has s ll not happened and is in a bigger mess than anyone an cipated. Add to that,Theresa May who was supposed to be steering the ship to a deal or even a no deal, did resign. You would hope in recogni on of of the calamity that was Brexit, possibly more so in recogni on of the fact she was one of the worst Prime Ministers to lead the UK in many years. Next up Boris Johnson. You can’t write the script for this stuff. Moving forward we have at least some interesting stuff that has been happening on the European Business Front. Security and tokenisa on has taken off big time leaving ICO’s in its wake. Crypto has come back and keeps creeping up. Since we last wrote, Bitcoin has gone up nearly 300 per cent and although difficult to predict it does not look like it is stopping any me soon. One predic on I would make, when the banks start to get behind it and the volume goes up, the sky is the limit for Bitcoin and other crypto currencies. I’m sure just a ma er of me. Moving on to our summer edi on we have some great interviews and the main one and front cover feature was with Noel Moran, the CEO and founder of Prepaid Financial Services. The prepaid card market is worth billions and the charisma c Noel tells us his journey from starting out in his kitchen in Paddington, to where he is now, and more importantly where he is going. Great insight into the journey of one of Ireland’s leading entrepreneurs.

We also caught up with Rob Charles, the founder of the Goldfingr, the global investment club that made its first appearance in London this month a er four years in New York city where he founded the club. Next interview is with Andrew Kakabadse who discusses the dedicated course he runs at Henley Business School for board members, and those wishing to strive to be one. A central part of our editorial was about global trade and who be er to talk to than Graham Bright of Exim Bank who now bring quicker and more efficient global payments through new technologies being developed at their bank . A big focus is on the travel business and inves ng in the Caribbean and we caught up with David Weatherson, CEO of Suntours Inc, who jovially tells us the challenges about running an award winning travel des na on management company in that part of the world. Other exci ng features we cover are Blockchain, Social Media influencers, CBD oil, IoT,data centres and the revolu on within them all. A read as ever we hope you enjoy.

Editor Katie Winearls Deputy Editor Anthony Gill Associate Publisher Brad Adams Features Editor Patricia Cullen Head of Production Paul Rogers Head of Design Vladimir Mladenovski Subscriptions Manager Rebecca Hill Head of Business Development Paul Matthews Advertising Sales Brad Adams Tara Duckworth Advertising Sales Tara Duckworth, Mike Ray, Andy Ellis, Mark Holburn Contributing writers Patricia Cullen, Richard Fitzpatrick, Bala Murali Krishna, Shilpa Meen, Argee Laraya, Aimee Ni Mhaolcraibhe, Gordana Ristic, Jonathan Hooker, Jose Ignacio Latorre Head of Digital Stephen Scott Photographer Ben Fisher

Nick Staunton Publisher

NST Publishing Ltd, 19 Leamington Spa (studio 1) Leamington Spa,Cv324tf, UK The information contained has been contained from sources the proprietor believes to be wholly correct however no legal liability can be accepted for any errors. No part of this publication can be reproduced without consent of the publisher.


European Business Magazine gives the low down on some of the recent reshuffles amongst the highbrow in the business world Henrick Adam

Robert Redeleanu has been appointed CEO of Liberty Global for Eastern Europe. He replaces Eric Tveter. Redeleanu has served as the CEO for UPC Hungary and UPC Poland. he joined Liberty Global in 2013. “Robert is a talented leader who brings considerable energy, passion, opera onal acumen, and customer focus,” Liberty Global’s CEO Mike Fries said. “As his track record shows, he is a shining example of our homegrown talent at Liberty Global.”

Tata Steel Europe’s Hans Fisher role as CEO stopped effec ve from July 1, 2019. Henrick Adam will succeed Fisher. Adam has been the company’s CCO. The posi on also gives Adam a spot on the company’s board.

Robert Redeleanu

Fisher will con nue to sit on the company board as a non-execu ve director where he can advise the CEO of Tata Steel Limited un l the end of September. Fisher became CEO of Tata Steel Europe in 2016. The move comes about two weeks a er the European Commission stopped the company’s a empted merger with ThyssenKrupp. The Commission cited concern over a monopoly situa on. Gaetan Van Wynsberghe

Fintech company Mash Group has announced that Gaetan Van Wynsberghe will be their next CEO. He has been the CFO of the company since 2017. His background includes over 15 years experience in the finance sector including as CFO for John Deere. He said that he was looking forward to his new role with Mash Group.

“With the support of the strong team already in place, the founda ons are in place for Mash to grow as a highly profitable fintech company. We expect growth especially through our pay-by-invoice acquisi on channels, working with partners and merchants to increase business volume conversion by leveraging our innovative point of sale payment solu on.” Wynsberghe’s appointment comes after former CEO James Hickson resigned. 14 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

Nexus Group appointed Marc van der Veer as CEO for European Opera ons. Van der Veer le his posi on with The Ardonagh Group to work with Nexus Group. He brings extensive experience in the insurance industry including as Chief Underwri ng Officer of European Specialty at Torus. Nexus Group CEO Colin Thompson said they were pleased to have van der Veer on board. “Marc has extensive knowledge of MGA’s and a vast network of rela onships in Europe. Coupled with his vision for growth opportuni es, this all aligns him very closely with the Nexus ethos as we look to develop our European MGA offering.” Marc van der Veer

Latest Technological Gadgets 2019 Echo Show 5

Amazon has unveiled its latest Echo gadget: the Echo Show 5. This device has a touchscreen that shows users extra informa on when they ask Alexa a ques on. It features a 5.5-inch display. The Echo Sho2 5 is also compa ble with other smart home devices such as locks or ligh ng. “With Echo Show 5, we’ve made it even easier and affordable for customers to add a smart display to every room of their house. The compact form factor is perfect for a bedside table or desk, plus it has a camera shu er for added peace of mind, and new Alexa privacy features that are coming soon to the UK for even more control,” VP of Amazon devices for Europe, Jorrit Van der Meulen said.

Snap Chat Spectacles Spectacles are smartglasses dedicated to recording video for the Snapchat service. They feature a camera lens and are capable of recording short video segments and syncing with a smartphone to upload to the user’s online account. They were developed and manufactured by Snap Inc. In addion, they come with a cable that makes charging on the go simple.

ZTE’s Axon 10 Pro 5G ZTE’s Axon 10 Pro 5G has arrived in Northern European Countries. Despite struggling with some embargoes in 2018, ZTE is now on the market. The company has released its 5G and non-5G phone in Finland. The only differences between the two devices are the modem and memory capability. ZTE also said it was running field tests of its 5G device in eight countries including Spain, Austria and Italy. europeanbusinessmagazine.com


Bulgaria The First Eu Country To Allow The Open Sale OF CBD OIL

Kannaway is certified to, “comply fully with relevant requirements of the Law on Foodstuffs of Republic of Bulgaria and of Regula on (EC) No 852/2004 of European Parliament and the Council on the hygiene of foodstuffs.” The move by Bulgaria is a cornerstone moment and has made history. The new “Free Sale Cer ficate” issued to Kannaway marks the first of its kind for CBD in the EU. The cer ficate allows what Bulgaria calls ‘novel foods‘ which contain CBD. As Sergiy Kovalenkov, CEO of Hempire explained, “So, you can sell CBD products as ‘novel food,’ as long as you obtain a permit to do so.” This surrounds the fact that CBD s ll falls through the cracks in Bulgaria, technically speaking. The CBD products are considered to be food supplements, and that’s the reason they’ve been permi ed. At the same me, other CBD products like CBD flowers and regular cannabis are s ll restricted.


hile cannabis and hemp legaliza on sweeps across North America, Europe is another continent that’s following suit. Bulgaria just took a brave new step by allowing the open sale of CBD in the European state.

Recent reports have confirmed that Bulgaria’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, and the Food Safety Agency of Bulgaria just issued certificates permitting the sale of products containing CBD. A forbes report noted that a company called

The move by Bulgaria is a bold one and has been welcomed by legaliza on ac vists across the world. However, according to Alex Grapov, vice-president of Kannaway, “there’s a lot of uncertainty about cannabis throughout the EU.” And that’s a fact as Europe finds itself trailing far behind North America when it comes to dropping preconceived fears and trepida on about the cannabis plant.



magine , coming into your normal carpark morning only to find your usual parking spot occupied by a commercial airliner.

Boeing has struggled to manage its supply of 737 Max jets months a er the fallout from two fatal crashes involving the planes in October and March.

Such is what happened to employees at Boeing manufacturing facili es in the Sea le area (2/06/2019) , where undelivered 737 Max jets are being parked ― and the Federal Avia on Administra on’s approval ― before they can retake the skies.

“We are using resources across the Boeing enterprise during the pause in 737 Max deliveries, including our facili es in Puget Sound, Boeing San Antonio, and at Moses Lake,” the Boeing spokesperson Paul Bergman told Business Insider. “This is part of our inventory-management plan.”

Having apparently used up all of the storage space it typically allots for the jets, Boeing is now parking them in the employee lot.The FAA, ordered the 737 Max grounded in March a er 346 people died in two separate crashes of that type of plane over the course of five months.

The plane maker is also shelling out quite a bit of money just to store those undelivered airplanes. Bloomberg reported that Boeing is spending some $2,000 a month to park each of them.t remains unclear when the 500 or so grounded 737 Max planes will return to the air.

16 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

Invest in Bogota the team’s knowledge, language skills; the reputa on of the agency among the companies that arrived to the country, a er-care and reinvestment services; and the ease of access to the informa on provided by direct channels and web page, among others. During the ceremony, ProColombia, entity that promotes international tourism, foreign investment and non-traditional exports in Colombia, was also recognized as the best na onal IPA of South America, while Invest Pacific, IPA from Valle del Cauca, received the award as the best regional IPA of South America, recogni on shared with Invest in Bogota. Bogota, Colombia, June 19, 2019. Invest in Bogota, Investment Promotion Agency (IPA) of the capital city of Colombia, was recognized by the Site Selec on Magazine as the best regional IPA of South America. Juan Gabriel Perez, execu ve director of Invest in Bogota, received the award during a ceremony in Sydney (Australia), at The World Forum for Foreign Direct Investment this week. “Been recognized as the best regional IPA of South America, an award we have received five times in a row, challenges us to keep bringing the best investments to the city, genera ng revenue for its inhabitants and allowing more companies to see the

capital as the gateway to the Region”, highlighted Pérez. As part of Bogota’s Smart Specializaࢼon Strategy, a road map created by local government, private sector and the academy for the transforma on of the capital through innova on and technology, the city has iden fied five sectors with the highest poten al for foreign investment a rac on, includinginfrastructure projects, creative industries, IT and BPO, life sciences and manufactured products. The selec on of the winning agencies was made after carrying out 1,000 surveys with internaࢼonal experts that evaluated aspects such as professionalism in the responses to investors;

According to Flavia Santoro, president of ProColombia, “this award is proof of the commitment of the ProColombia team and of en es such as Invest in Bogota and Invest Pacific which, day a er day, guide investors with valuable informa on in their decision-making process, so that these results are profitable for them and also contribute to the genera on of equity, growth and development of all regions in Colombia”. Only in 2018, Invest in Bogota facilitated the arrival of 43 investment projects for 258 million dollars. Since 2007, the agency has supported 336 projects that have le an es mated investment of more than 2.3 billion dollars to the city.

“We’re going to bring a Max back up in the air that will be one of the safest airplanes ever to fly,” Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said at the Paris Air Show earlier this month. “But we also know it will take me rebuilding the confidence of our customers and the flying public, and this will be a long-term effort.” The effect to commercial air travel has been tremendous: American Airlines has had to cancel some 115 scheduled flights per day. A hundred flights daily have been canceled by Southwest Airlines, as have some 2,400 United flights in June and July alone. The situa ons had led to cancela ons and delays of flights using other kinds of jets, which have to be rerouted to cover Max routes. American Airlines announced it hopes to bring the 737 Max back to its fleet this fall, according to The Points Guy, adding 754 weekly flights on 31 routes. But it remains to be seen if the Federal Avia on Administra on will give Boeing the all-clear by then. europeanbusinessmagazine.com


London Leads Global Rankings For Talent Concentration


ondon has the highest concentraon of talent in the world, thanks to its world-class universi es and a highly educated workforce and is the 5th most innovative city globally according to JLL’s latest research. Edinburgh, Scotland, is also punching well above its weight as a global talent hub in 15th posi on.

In the global research report, Innovaon Geographies, JLL analysed over 100 cities worldwide to quantify their innovation and talent attributes, and examine how this links with real estate performance. Findings show that top-performing ci es in both innovation and talent not only outperform in economic ac vity over the long term but have also recorded the fastest office rental growth over the past decade and are a rac ng a higher propor on of real estate capital. London is the leading global talent hub, with the best-educated workforce of any city globally – nearly 59% have a ter ary educa on, compared to the global average of just 34%. London is also one of the world’s most innova ve ci es. Nearly 15% of London’s workforce is employed in 18 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

high-tech sectors and venture capital funding for technology start-ups is amongst the highest in the world, at around US$25 billion between 2016-2018. Of the 109 ci es analysed, the nine leading global markets – London, Boston, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Sea le, San Jose, Sydney and Tokyo – accounted for around 37% of total annual real estate investment volumes over the past decade with London a rac ng the largest share of real estate capital over this period. Like real estate investors, corporate occupiers also search for loca ons that have advanced innova on ecosystems and provide access to deep talent pools making these ci es more likely to succeed in the future. London is a leading corporate hub, and in addi on to its thriving start-up scene, places in the top 5 globally for corporate HQs. As a city of only half a million people, Edinburgh outdoes other ci es of its size when it comes to talent concentration. Its growing demographic of 20-40-year old’s now account for 35% of the popula on, the highest in Europe. More than half of its workforce has a ter ary educa on, with the

University of Edinburgh highly regarded and ranked among the top in the world. Edinburgh’s strengths as a talent hub haven’t gone unno ced by ambi ous start-ups. It is the birthplace of tech unicorn, Skyscanner, and base of the UK’s largest tech incubator, Codebase. R&D expenditure accounts for 2.2% of GDP, double R&D’s share in either Glasgow, Manchester or London, and outside London, Edinburgh received more high-tech foreign direct investment (FDI) than any other UK city between 2015-2018. Chris Ireland, CEO, JLL UK said: “The link between innovation and talent-rich ci es and real estate performance is evident. JLL’s research confirms that innova ve ci es have a strong compe ve advantage when a rac ng real estate investment and corporate occupiers. Innova on helps to drive produc vity which leads to economic growth. By crea ng more jobs and attracting more talent, demand for real estate follows. Idenfying talent hotspots and ci es with strong innova on poten al is now an important part of real estate investment strategies for our clients.” Neil Prime, head of London Office Markets and UK Office Agency at JLL UK, said: “Despite Brexit uncertainty, London leads the pack in terms of talent concentration, showing that in addi on to world-class universies, and robust levels of investment in R&D and high-tech industries, London is a city that is resilient and remains perennially a rac ve to both workers and investors.” Cameron Stott, head of Office Agency Edinburgh, JLL UK, said: “Edinburgh’s burgeoning tech sector and resilient financial sector means it remains a firm favourite with investors. Indeed, the city ranked 2nd globally for investment volumes relave to economic size, and has con nued to rise-up the ranks of the most sought-a er investment loca ons in the UK. The combina on of quality of life and rich seam of talent coming from Edinburgh’s universi es has helped the city prosper, however to ensure con nued investment, idenfying new submarkets will be a key priority.”

Canadian Government Pledges $24.5 Million for Medical Cannabis Research


anada made history recently when they introduced the full legaliza on of cannabis for recrea onal purposes. So far, legaliza on in Canada is going well and money is being plowed into more than 20 different research ini a ves. Canada became the second country in the world, a er Uruguay, to officially legalize cannabis back in 2018. Medicinal cannabis was legalized there back in 2001, The Federal Cannabis Act took effect on October 17, 2018, making cannabis legal for any Canadian ci zen living in Canada. This includes the “cul va on, possession, acquisi on, and consumption of cannabis and its by-products,” according to the le er of the law. Legaliza on so far is going smoothly in Canada, and people aren’t killing each other on the streets due to cannabis-induced psychosis. You would be forgiven for thinking as much a er the way this herb has been suppressed and oppressed for so many decades. In any event, the des are now turning, and the point is; it’s going well.

Black market sales of cannabis are soon to be a thing of the past, as dispensaries and medical facili es have everything Canadians need. The cannabis people are using, as well as things like CBD flowers, are regulated and checked before they’re sold; a far cry from pocke ng a baggy of questionable quality buds in a parking lot somewhere. A year hasn’t even passed since legalization, and the even be er news is that the Canadian government is already giving something back. According to a recent Parksville Qualicum Beach News report, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research announced a $24.5 million investment into medical cannabis research. The funding is earmarked for 26 different

projects throughout Canada, looking at cannabis for medicinal purposes and specifically at CBD oil. According to the organiza on, the money “will support research teams that will explore the therapeutic potential of cannabis in areas such as cancer, chronic pain, and neurodevelopment. he new research ini a ve comes not from private funders, but from the highest echelons of the Canadian government. Gine e Pe tpas Taylor, Canada’s minister of health, spoke about the funding. “We are inves ng in research to provide the evidence needed to maintain policies for cannabis use that protect the health and safety of Canadians,” she said. “The projects announced today will result in new information on the health effects of cannabis, which will be valuable to governments, public health professionals, health care providers, and all Canadians.” At the same me, as the legal cannabis locomo ve moves fast in Canada, funds have also been designated for public awareness projects in Alberta, as well as money from the University of Calgary. Canadians want students and young adults to understand

cannabis and to know about its potenal dangers. Bill Blair, the minister of border security and organized crime reduction, also spoke to reporters according to the same report. “We have put in place a strict regulatory framework for cannabis that aims to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth and the profits out of the hands of criminals,” said Blair. “This research will make an important contribu on as we con nue to roll out the regulatory framework. We must con nue to ensure that preven on, harm reduction, and education remain at the forefront of these efforts.” But what about Canadian citizens who have previous convictions for cannabis possession which was a criminal charge at the time? A bill was introduced in March to deal with this issue and pardons were given to these people, with their criminal records being erased. There’s no question that cannabis legaliza on is going well in Canada so far. It remains to be seen what the long-term picture will look like, especially a er medical research is carried out and more is understood about this once forbidden herb. europeanbusinessmagazine.com


New framework to help businesses transition to a net zero economy


oday ( 25th June 2019) the Carbon Trust has launched a new service that will help businesses transi on to a net zero economy by assessing and developing their strategic response to climate change. The Carbon Trust Climate Leadership Framework helps senior management understand how their company is currently performing on climate change, iden fies the opportuni es for measureable improvements via a low carbon roadmap and guides their strategic planning. As a trusted partner of leading organisa ons globally, the Carbon Trust has identified a growing demand from companies for expert evalua on and guidance on their overall strategic approach to climate change. To meet this demand and ensure that companies are equipped to take comprehensive ac on towards net zero, the Carbon Trust has spent over a year developing this new framework. Hugh Jones, Managing Director – Business Services, the Carbon Trust said: “Organisations are more aware than ever of the need for bold acࢼon on climate change.

The recent publica on of the Committee on Climate Change’s Net Zero report and heightened public and political awareness of climate change issues have highlighted the need to transi on to sustainable, low carbon economies across the world. This framework enables businesses to play their full part and ul mately become climate leaders.” The framework has been tested and refined in partnership with five businesses over the past six months to ensure it provides a straigh orward process to produce robust, relevant and ac onable insights for company leaders. Using the framework, the Carbon Trust works with each client to assess 20 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

its own opera ons, its upstream and downstream value chain, and the avoided emissions brought about by the use of its products or services. Within each of these three perspectives, the following activities are examined: • Target se ng: is the company setting sufficiently ambitious targets in the right areas? • Implementation: does the company have an implementation plan that clearly lays out the ac ons it will take to achieve its targets? • Contextual analysis: does the business fully understand the climate change issues it is facing, including the opportuni es and risks it faces in the transion to a net zero economy? • Innovation: is there a structured approach to developing and delivering the changes necessary to transform the company beyond its current short to medium term target horizon so it can succeed in a net zero carbon economy? • Influencing: is the business engaging key stakeholders in ini a ves to address the barriers to achieving further emissions reductions beyond its current short to medium term target horizon? Once its assessment is completed, each company agrees and receives a scorecard showing its current state of progress and a bespoke roadmap containing prac cal next steps in order to make progress towards becoming a climate leader and achieving net zero emissions. Hugh Jones, Managing Director – Business Services, the Carbon Trust added: “Businesses may already be addressing some of their climate change impacts

but this framework helps evaluate their overall performance, strategically posiࢼons exisࢼng schemes and iniࢼaࢼves for them and, crucially, provides a tailored company-wide roadmap for improvement. Experience from working with companies on its development has shown that it is extremely effec ve at facilitating company-wide understanding and ownership of climate change impacts and stimulating long term strategic planning.” The Climate Leadership Framework has already been taken up by five companies working with the Carbon Trust – Pearson, Quorn Foods, SGN, Sky and Marshalls. Louise Needham, Sustainability Manager, Quorn Foods said: “We found the Climate Leadership Framework project to be very valuable indeed. To complement the confidence we have from a product-led perspec ve, we needed an objec ve and independent assessment of our organisa onal climate change strategy, plus key recommendations to make improvements – this is exactly what we achieved with the project.”

Ma hew Rowland-Jones, Sustainability Manager, Pearson commented: “The framework enabled Pearson to measure progress against different perspec ves and delivers a comprehensive and robust set of recommenda ons. There is also addi onal benefit as the framework has been developed by a trusted, third party expert partner, which adds credibility to support our engagement with colleagues, facilita ng a meaningful discussion on areas for improvement.” Nicholas Drake, Climate Change & Sustainability Senior Manager, SGN said: “SGN was keen to take part in the inial group of companies to be taken through the Climate Leadership Framework, which lays out a clear path for companies to align with a net zero future. It has helped us to demonstrate our commitment to taking ac on on climate change and recognises the severity of the current situa on.”

Brexit Hangover leaves UK Feeling Worst Economic Contraction Since 2016


he UK economy could be headed for its first quarterly contrac on since late 2012 a er uncertainty over Brexit caused a sharp slowdown in manufacturing.

Britain’s economy shrunk by 0.4% in April, according to official data published Monday that was even more dire than economists had expected. The data also showed a 0.1% contrac on in March.

“The clear message is that underlying growth is pre y sluggish,” said Ruth Gregory, a senior economist at Capital Economics, who added that it’s possible the economy will shrink in the second quarter. Manufacturing was hardest hit in April. Three years a er the Brexit referendum UK-based companies still have no idea what their future terms of trade will be with the European Union, which accounts for about half of Bri sh goods exports. Recent surveys suggest EU customers are taking their business elsewhere. Factory output plunged 3.9% over the previous month, according to the data. Auto produc on fell 24%, the most on record, as carmakers idled factories around the original March 29 deadline for Brexit. Rob Kent-Smith, an official at the Office for Na onal Stas cs, said there had been “widespread weakness” across

manufacturing as a boost from stockpiling ahead of the departure date faded. Produc on of chemicals, pharmaceu cal products and basic metals also declined in April, according to the stas cs agency. Companies have begged the Bri sh government for clarity on Brexit. Instead, two deadlines for leaving the European Union have come and gone and the country is sliding deeper into a poli cal crisis.Prime Minister Theresa May is stepping down, and it’s not clear when — or if — Brexit will happen, and on what terms. Some of her poten al successors have suggested leaving the bloc on Oct. 31 — the latest deadline — without a deal to protect trade. Meanwhile, the economic pain is likely to con nue.Survey data covering the services, manufacturing and construcon sectors for May reinforces the conclusion that the UK economy is grinding to a halt. europeanbusinessmagazine.com



Apple’s Chief Designer Jonathan Ive To Leave Apple Later This Year

pple’s chief design officer Jonathan Ive will leave the Apple later this year, bringing an end to a tenure spent crafting some of technology’s most influen al products, including the iPhone. In a statement on Thursday 27th June 2019 said that Ive (who has led Apple’s design team since 1996) is leaving “to form an independent design company which will count Apple among its primary clients.” The company is called LoveFrom, and Ive will be joined by famed designer Marc Newson on the new venture. Despite stepping down from his execu ve posi on, Ive and Apple both claim he will s ll work “on a range of projects with Apple.” “Apple will con nue to benefit from Jony’s talents by working directly with him on exclusive projects, and through the ongoing work of the brilliant and passionate design team he has built,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a press release. “Jony is a singular figure in the design world and his role in Apple’s revival cannot be overstated, from 1998’s groundbreaking iMac to the iPhone and the unprecedented ambi on of Apple Park, where recently he has been pu ng so much

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of his energy and care,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. After so many years working closely together, I’m happy that our relationship continues to evolve and I look forward to working with Jony long into the future.” “A er nearly 30 years and countless projects, I am most proud of the lasting work we have done to create a design team, process and culture at Apple that is without peer. Today it is stronger, more vibrant and more talented than at any point in Apple’s history,” said Ive. “The team will certainly thrive under the excellent leadership of Evans, Alan and Jeff, who have been among my closest collaborators. I have the utmost confidence in my designer colleagues at Apple, who remain my closest friends, and I look forward to working with them for many years to come.” Design team leaders Evans Hankey, vice president of Industrial Design, and Alan Dye, vice president of Human Interface Design, will report to Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief opera ng officer. Both Dye and Hankey have played key leadership roles on Apple’s design team for many years. Williams has led the development of

Apple Watch since its incep on and will spend more of his me working with the design team in their studio. There is no confirmed date when Ive will be departing Apple, as Apple’s announcement simply says that he’ll be leaving Apple as an employee later this year. In an interview with The Financial Times, Ive said his new company, created in partnership with Marc Newson, is called LoveFrom. Apple will be LoveFrom’s first client, and while Ive is depar ng, he said he will still be “very involved” for “many, many years to come.” “This just seems like a natural and gentle time to make this change,” he told The Financial Times. In a seperate news statement , Apple has named 24-year Apple veteran Sabih Khan to the execu ve team as a senior vice president of opera ons. He will be in charge of Apple’s global supply chain, ensuring product quality and overseeing planning, procurement, manufacturing, logistics and product fulfillment func ons, as well as Apple’s supplier responsibility programs. He will con nue to report to COO Jeff Williams.

MEET 3,500 PROFESSIONALS WHO WANT TO EXPAND INTERNATIONALLY AND TRADE OVERSEAS On the 27th & 28th of November, Europe’s leading event for expanding business overseas will be returning to the London ExCeL. Going Global Live, sponsored by American Express, is the leading exhibition dedicated to providing businesses with absolutely everything they need to expand internationally and trade overseas. From obally recognised brands through to world-class seminars hosted by leading professionals, this event will be the one stop shop for all brands moving into the global arena.‫ݎ‬ 9’s edition of Going Global Live promises to be the most forward-thinking to date,‫ ݎ‬focusing on some of he most significant political developments in decades, including post-Brexit trade and how this will fect the way UK companies conduct business with trade partners across the globe. Annually attracting xperts from around the world, Going Global Live enables a highly interactive learning experience for oth exhibitors and visitors. This year's show will host professionals in all areas of international trade & port each leading their own informative seminar, providing visitors with second to none knowledge to utilise moving forward. ng Global Live 2019 will be running alongside The Business Show and Foreign Direct Investment Expo, allowing for unrivalled networking opportunities across all of the events. Tickets to Going Global will ant access to the surrounding shows, opening up visitors to all the benefits of the surrounding events. oth of these shows will be providing their own valuable business masterclasses, so the opportunity to learn from international professionals has never been larger.




Top 5 solutions to keep your business’ finances in check NIC REDFERN, FINANCE DIRECTOR, KNOWYOURMONEY.CO.UK as to why startups fail. This is an issue that desperately needs addressing, par cularly given the significant number of startups that try and fail to keep their feet on the ground beyond the ini al first stages; of the hundreds of thousands of new businesses formed in the UK every year, over half will fail within their first five years of launching. The prospect of keeping close tabs on your income, outcome and overall profit can seem overwhelming at first, but having an accoun ng solu on in place from the start can ensure that you keep on top of your cash flow. This is par cularly important as the business grows; ignoring basic financial planning can cause issues to snowball out of control and lead to significant long-term problems down the line.


n the world of business, there are few things more exciting than launching a startup. The prospect of launching a product or service that addresses a clear gap in the market, be it for B2B or B2C purposes, is an a rac ve proposi on for many here in the UK – 660,000 new companies were registered across the country in 2018. However, the process of launching and growing a successful business, par cularly during the forma ve years, can be a trying and stressful experience. Not only do founders need to manage the launch of their product or service, they also have to ensure the structures are in place for the successful running of their business. One obvious example that comes to mind is the financial side. Establishing a strong financial infrastructure and good business management prac ces are key to se ng up a startup for success. Yet while many founders have the determina on and innova on needed to launch a promising startup, o en the financial side is le as an a erthought. Indeed, recent research by CB Insight revealed that poor cash management is the second most common reason

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As someone who has worked closely with young businesses to develop and implement long-term growth plans, I’ve seen first-hand what they get wrong when it comes to managing finances. Taking these experiences into account, here are some mistakes to avoid when preparing and managing accounts as a small business, and why I think founders should embrace technology to help them.

What can tech do for you? Separate your accounts Star ng from the basics, what I o en see when working with young businesses is that many sole traders use their personal bank account for business purposes rather than se ng up a separate account. This can make the process of business financial management unnecessarily difficult, and more so, means that founders are missing out on so ware designed specifically for the account management of small businesses. For instance, some accounts like Coconut come with a simple cost analysis tool included, which is o en more than enough to meet the needs of fledgling businesses and sole traders. Easily manage your expenses When a business is just ge ng off the ground, more o en than not they can’t afford to hire an accountant to manage

the day-to-day cash flow. Fortunately, businesses can now delegate these tasks to so ware solu ons instead. Coming at a frac on of the cost of hiring an accoun ng professional, so ware tools can help businesses improve their opera ng efficiency by taking on the otherwise laborious and me-consuming tasks of managing invoices, recording expenses, monitoring outgoings and a host of other micro finance tasks that eat up a company’s precious resources. The cloud has become somewhat of a silver bullet for these solu ons, allowing business leaders and employees to access accoun ng tools through a web browser or app on almost any device – including on their smartphone while on the go. Unlike old accoun ng systems which were aimed at accountants, and very much seen as an a erthought purely for annual tax returns and VAT, the new breed of online systems allow different people in the business to be given different access and can be a valuable tool integrated into the day to day working of the business. These solu ons also link into banking systems and HMRC. This means that the data is transferred seamlessly, removing manual re-entry of data which not only saves mes, but also prevents small errors that are easy to overlook. Planning for the future Having a system like this in place from the get-go will also offer an overall picture of a company’s performance and help businesses be er understand their own financial posi on. This is important for two main reasons; for one, it gives founders the ability to effec vely plan for the future and determine how they can sustainably scale the business in the long-term. Using the insights provided by accounting software, business leaders can create budgets and plot out what expenses they will face for the foreseeable future – ul mately enabling them to plan what kind of revenue they need to generate to enable them to grow. As an added bonus, most solu ons today are scalable, so they can be tailored towards the specific needs of the business as it matures. For instance, if a business is in the process of hiring new employees, it can delegate payroll responsibili es to these solu ons to ensure everyone gets paid on me and without unnecessary hassle. Another reason is that this informa on is crucial if a company is seeking funding, be it seed or Series A. By organising all of the financial data in one place from the outset, startups will be able to offer poten al investors a detailed insight into their earnings, outgoings, and general performance.

5 software solutions that should be on your radar… Now that we’ve explored some of the ways that technology can fill the knowledge gap founders might experience, here are a few examples of cloud so ware solu ons I believe should be on the radar of all small business owners…

FreshBooks FreshBooks is a simple and intui ve op on for small businesses who are looking to automate tasks like invoicing, accep ng online payments and keeping track of expenses. Addi onally, it provides an insigh ul dashboard where business owners can conveniently access key reports and statements such as profit and loss. Intuit QuickBooks With unlimited invoicing and free expense tracking, Intuit QuickBooks takes much of the hassle out of bookkeeping. This solu on offers intui ve cashflow insights, runs company payroll, and automatically categorises income and expenses to help keep finances organised and accounted for. Xero Xero gives businesses the tools needed to take care of the numbers and spend less me on accoun ng. Tedious and me-consuming tasks like paying bills, tracking inventory and managing payroll can now be taken care of automatically through this so ware, with the informa on readily accessible on the go. Sage Business Cloud Accounঞng With Sage Accoun ng, businesses can ensure that they make smart business decisions and prepare for accurate tax filing. Amongst other features, this solution helps businesses automatically manage invoicing, cashflow, payments and VAT. ReceiptBank ReceiptBank is a very popular tool for automa ng the collec on, processing and publishing of receipts and invoices. It allows users to photograph a printed receipt, a er which the solu on reads the text and automa cally categorises it to produce entries for accoun ng systems like Xero or Quickbooks. Beyond these accoun ng pla orms, there are a host of other tools that can be used to make bookkeeping inherently simpler. For instance, automa on tools like zapier or Flow can integrate with accoun ng pla orms and automate various tasks to remove any me-consuming admin involved. The above examples are far from exhaus ve, but I hope they offer an indica on of the scope of solu ons on offer and how easily they can supplement small businesses. What’s more, they demonstrate that you don’t have to be a financial wiz to effec vely manage your business accounts. I would encourage entrepreneurs to take the me to explore their op ons and choose a solu on that best meets the specific needs of their business.




Jewellery from the Napoleonic Era at Pforzheim’s Jewellery Museum | 19 October 2019 through 1 March 2020 English translation: Sabine Goodman

N [Inv. Nr. KV 1446 g] Ornamental comb/ ara Gilt bronze, amethysts W: 18.5 cm Presump vely made in France, about 1805–10 © Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim Photo Günther Meyer

[Inv. Nr. 2011/5] Pendant Gold, carnelean, pearls, enamel Paris, 1800 © Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim Photo Petra Jaschke

[Inv. Nr. 1967-19 | MF 48] Choker Gold, pearls, rubies Presump vely made in Germany, about 1820 Probably from the estate of Napoleon’s second wife Marie Louise © Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim Photo Petra Jaschke

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apoleon Bonaparte fundamentally changed the poli cal geography of Europe, radically and las ngly transforming the continent’s civic landscape within a very short mespan. 2019 marks the anniversary of his birthday: 250 years have gone by since the birth of the French general, politician and emperor. Like Alexander von Humboldt, who revolu onised people’s view of nature, and developed modern, interdisciplinary scientific perspec ves, Napoleon, too, significantly contributed to shaping our modern world. »Napoleon’s personality and farsightedness are s ll fascina ng. In his Code civil (back then called Code Napoléon), the equality of all people as declared during the French Revolution was codified – at least for the men –, and neither the aristocracy nor the clergy were favoured merely due to their social status any longer,« explains Cornelie Holzach, the director of Pforzheim’s Jewellery Museum. In 2019, the Jewellery Museum is featuring two future-oriented personali es. A er the »Unconfined horizons – Treasures Retracing Humboldt’s Travel Routes« exhibi on about Humboldt, the show en tled »A Newly Ordered World – Treasures from the Napoleonic Era« will, from 19 October 2019 through 1 March 2020, be spotlighting Napoleon’s influence, as well as the jewellery and fashion of his era, which were undergoing major changes. Visitors can look forward to admiring about 150 exhibits, including pieces created by Chaumet, Napoleon’s court jeweller. Numerous pictures will be showing how Napoleon presented himself and had himself depicted and, exhibited alongside documents, as well as u litarian and luxury items, will be giving visitors an impression of his epoch.

Jewellery created in Napoleon’s era The jewellery of Napoleon’s era was very different from that created before the French Revolu on: it was more unobtrusive, but no less precious; rather, it was even more valuable. Its formal idiom was reminiscent of the Biedermeier style: delicate and, unlike the pompous Baroque jewellery, sleekly simple and finely cra ed, gilded and sometimes embellished with intaglios and laurel leaves. Diadems and representa ve necklaces created back then will be on show, as well as a golden dinner service, plus a belt typical of the me, enhanced with malachite and intaglios, which was fastened at the wearer’s back with silk bands, thus gathering the fashionable, gently flowing dresses below the bosom. »We’ll also be showcasing fashion lithographs and magazines to illustrate the correla on between jewellery, fashion and polics. The garments worn during the Ancien Régime, comprising breeches and wigs, corsets and crinoline dresses, were en rely unfashionable and no longer wearable after the poli cal change. The beginning of the Directory in 1795 brought about the development of a dis nc ve, an quity-driven Parisian fashion. Women were now wearing short-sleeved dresses with a high waistline, whose cuts and designs required new types of jewellery. Napoleon was an aficionado of cameos and intaglios in the classical an que style which, in addion to symbolising his imperial aspira ons, highlighted the gemstones’ multi-layered structure to perfecon,« says co-curator Mar na Eberspächer. Fabrics were o en enhanced with a bee mo f that, in a sense, was symbolic of a turning away from the royalist lily. Another facet is Berlin Iron Jewellery: during the period of the Napoleonic Wars of Liberation 1813– 1815, ladies were asked to donate their precious metal jewellery and exchange it for iron jewellery. In line with the mo o »I gave gold for iron«, they regarded themselves

as patriots for the rescue of the fatherland. »These interrelationships between the arts and crafts and poli cs can be appositely spotlighted by this exhibi on; that’s what I find par cularly exci ng about it,« says Mar na Eberspächer, adding: »We’ll be presen ng an overview of the Napoleonic era, which brought about fundamental societal changes within a relatively short period of 15 years and, during these highly dramatic years, also inspired the crea on of superbly cra ed objects. In Baden-Wür emberg par cularly, whose precursor states were being contoured back then, the Napoleonic era had far-reaching consequences.«

The life and achievements of the French emperor Born in the Corsican capital, Ajaccio, in 1769, Napoleone Buonaparte was a descendant of an Italian family of minor nobility. He had seven siblings. Thanks to a scholarship for impoverished students of noble lineage, he was able to a end a military school, where his strategic skills and his will to power soon led to his meteoric rise. Napoleon knew how to translate his successes on the ba lefields into poli cal power and, by marrying Joséphine Beauharnais, a noblewoman who had close links with the Parisian high society, he also climbed the social ladder. In 1799, Napoleon overthrew the revolu onary government and became First Consul. In 1804, he published the Code Civil as the first code of civil law in France, which was soon adopted by other states as well, thus transla ng the Revolu on’s central no on of liberty into a legal form that is s ll valid today. In the same year, he appointed himself emperor and started his wars of expansion. In 1809, he divorced Joséphine because their marriage remained childless, and married the Austrian emperor’s daughter Marie Louise with whom he had his only legi mate son Napoleon II. In 1812, his Russian Campaign ended in disaster, and a year later he lost the Ba le of

Empress Josephine in corona on costume Baron François Gérard, 1807/08 Oil on canvas Musée Na onal du Château de Fontainebleau

Fashion print for a revolu onary habitus Costume Parisien Presump vely 1799

the Na ons near Leipzig. He escaped from his exile on the island of Elba, but he suffered a crushing defeat at Waterloo and was banned to the Bri sh island of St. Helena, where he died in 1821. The German poet Heinrich Heine wrote: »Napoleon is not made of the wood used to carve kings – he is made of the marble used to make gods.

www.schmuckmuseum.de europeanbusinessmagazine.com


European Business caught up with the founder and CEO

Rob Charles of Goldfingr -a members-only global Investment Club. The Goldfingr (www.goldfingr.net) concept was born in 2014 in New York and is essen ally an investors club where entrepreneurs can meet investors to raise capital and vice versa. It has been mee ng every month in New York for the last four years . It is also the first 1st Digi zed Deal Club that has been held in such high esteem by its members coupled with the fact that millions of capital has been raised that Rob decided to launch in London , arguably the centre of the financial world. They launched on Wednesday the 26th of June at the exclusive 8 Club in Bank where it was a ended by exactly the crowd you would expect , budding entrepreneurs from the Crypto and Tech industries looking to raise much needed cash and eager investors looking for the next big thing . Rob sits and talks to us to tell us his story and vision.

Rob, let’s start with a li le bit of background. When you’ve first started off in fintech, you’ve had an online art gallery. Tell us about this me. Yes, my first tech startup was in 1996, it was called Universal Artz. It was the 1st online art gallery based in Dallas. At that me I was 26, I was s ll in college, and it was s ll very very early in the fintech scene. I met a few Australian entrepreneurs and we started brainstorming. We talked about the Internet and how it was the wave of the future. That’s how we came up with an idea of online art. It was about twenty years too early when I think about it now. It failed miserably, but we kept it going for over two years. When you say “failed miserably “, what do you mean by that? Was it the lack of online access, lack of social media effects? First thing is that we ran out of funding. We had no capital, and obviously, you always need to have the capital to fund your ideas. Looking back, the biggest mistake that I’ve made back 28 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

then is that I had this idea of doing art type events, social events, and selling art at those events. So we started focusing more on the events, which divided our focus. Instead of building our tech company, we started chasing revenue and established a company specializing in events, and in the end, we ran out of capital. So from this point, where did you go? What was your next move? When this happened, I needed to get a job. So I went into IT recrui ng. It was actually really good experience because I got a broad overview of tech and learned how to sell, which is most important. At that time, although I was working in tech, I was not that technical, and I didn’t really know how to operate a computer very well. One day my boss came in and said: “Hey Rob, I need all the DBAs (database administrators) out of Lockheed Marࢼn and I need you to get in there“. I didn’t know how to get in there. He told me to figure it out and make it happen. So I got crea ve, and socially engineered my way into the

high security defense corp., and a few hours later I came in with the en re phone book of Lockheed Martin faxed to me, and I put it on his desk. He asked me how did I do that. Well, I got someone from Lockheed Marn’s mailroom to fax me the book. As a recruiter, I learned how to posion myself. And my dream was to go to New York and par cipate in the first digital boom. So I flew to New York. I went to a bunch of interviews and was the 1st guy in at iCIMS.com, which is one of the first recruiting management software companies, s ll in business today. How did you help them built up the business? They had the co-founders, they had the concept, they had the idea, they were working on the products, but they had no idea how to market, drive revenue and didn’t know about the direc on of the company. At that me I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I posi oned myself as an expensive sales and marke ng person. So I faked it l I made it, reading sales and marke ng books on my way to work

everyday. I devised and implemented strategies and systems, figured out the direction of the company and ultimately made it work. I got the company off the ground, it started driving revenue. That was in 19992000, just before the bubble of the internet burst. Where did you go next? At that me everything was going from hard copy to the digital format. I had some really good connec ons in New York and Washington DC. So I started a consul ng company providing solutions for document process management and content management. And then, in 2001, right a er 9/11, I had this first idea about Goldfingr. I organized a bachelor party for the guys that I grew up with. We were ge ng disconnected, everyone was ge ng married, everyone was successful in their own way. So I went to a few top penthouses in New York City and organized a 3-4 day experience with dinners and night clubs. Then I realized there should be some kind of technology channel keeping us connected, and this is when I came up with the idea of a mastermind network (social network), which later evolved into Goldfingr. At that me, social networks like A Small World and MySpace didn’t exist yet. But I made another costly mistake. Instead of going a er my passion and dream, I started chasing money. In 2003, I started inves ng in cannabis when it first opened up in LA and real estate. A er a ending a transforma onal program, I became clear on how I want to change the world and give back, so I started a foundation for children. I also started Muay-Thai, because it was a childhood dream and I wanted to get in shape. By 2006, I was WKA North American Light Middleweight Champion and got Silver Medal at WKA World Championships in Spain. I wasn’t planning on it, but when I do something, I usually go all-in. So when did the idea of Goldfingr start to evolve?

In 2009 I was living in Asia. At that me the US economy was crumbling, and the Asian market was booming. My current partner Scott came to visit me and did the math, and we decided to start some companies in Taiwan. The market for raw materials was really expanding in China, so we started with gold. We had contracts with 4 banks, but we needed the product. So we went to Ghana to search for gold and found it. If you want to make it happen, you just have to do it.

So fast forward to the next chapter of your life, what happened then? I came back to New York in 2014 and had to rebuild my network. I s ll had some friends, but I didn’t have all the contacts as I did before. But I was a Co-founder of this global M&A investment group, and it involved people from Vancouver and Hong Kong, So I modified my original version of that 2001 mastermind network and suggested that we develop a tech europeanbusinessmagazine.com


no-brainer to me. Goldfingr provides the ve ed ecosystem globally which solves all of these inefficiencies and problems. What are the plans for the future? We’ve just opened a Puerto Rico chapter a few months ago. We started this as a test market, and the next step is to have a presence in Europe. London is the financial hub of EU and UK, accessible to everyone. We’re launching our Hong Kong Chapter in September. So we’re connec ng the dots between Asia, Europe, and the US. We have a wait list of twenty international ci es right now that want to open up Goldfingr Chapters, but we can only do it step by step, one by one.

pla orm for deals combined with a social network. We had the whole team ready to go, but the funding fell apart because the other co-founder kind of disappeared. Since we didn’t have fire power to execute the deals, we had to reverse-engineer our concept, and that’s how we came up with the concierge app as star ng point. We booked over a million dollars in revenue over the first year through the app. So how does it work? Do the members of Goldfingr meet every month? We’re a “members-only“ global investment club, based on the mastermind principle. We’re also the first “digital-members-only“ club. We opened up our membership over two years ago and started to do these private events in New York to generate tracon and to build a community. We had no idea that our private events would take off like they did. We were doing 4 to 8 events every month for 30 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

almost 2 years. In 2016 we started experimen ng with deal clubs, and it was a huge success. We didn’t do any marke ng, only word of mouth, but we managed to gain significant tracon and we’re now the Top in New York City and globally. So the New York scene is set and fully established. And your next step of coming to London was very successful too. Where did this idea come from? Well, I travel a lot, as many investors do. There’s a huge disconnect between investor networks and innovators. All of the investors are looking for quality deals, and both investors and entrepreneurs need capital and ve ed resources. All of the companies need to scale and get into different markets and it’s all based on connections and relationships. Moreover, when I go to conferences, I don’t really go there for the speakers. I go to meet the top 10 to 50 people that I need to connect with. So it’s a

You can get anything you need. But I see that it all goes down to being genuine. I had this thought that “These are genuine guys who made money and they are willing to introduce other people and give them connec ons.“ Shortly speaking, how do you scale this? It’s a difficult ques on. Please note, “these are both genuine men and women”, we’ve modernized the “Good O’ Boys Club’ to the “Good O’ Boys and Girls Club’. But it goes back to my original concept from 2001. I’ve always been a power connector. I just naturally meet people and I’m always connected to other power connectors from different groups and communi es. For example, if you go to Israel, the whole country is like this, everyone helps each other. When you go to China — it’s a similar concept, the whole family invests together. We’re just bringing this ethos into one community, and connec ng private networks cross culturally. Once people wrap their mind around it, they’re blown away - we’ve created a club that adds exponential value to everyone from every aspect. Most importantly, we help entrepreneurs succeed. It’s not about the money. Money follows success!

Investing in the US: The Three Major Players


he United States has been the world’s prime loca on for international investment for quite some me now. Known as the most innova ve economy in the world, the US con nues to a ract the best and the brightest from around the world.

It leads the way in many different areas: technology, business model transforma ons, and policy developments, biopharmaceu cal firms, R&D, universi es, ba ery revolu on… As Mike Kerr once said, “I think the technologies of the future, the industries of the future, are more likely to come out of the United States than anywhere else in the world.“ And numbers show that investors from all over the world are interested. International companies invested $4,025.5 billion in the US economy in 2017, and Europe made up more than 60% of that investment. Corpora ons see investment as an alterna ve to expor ng, and where

be er than the US, in terms of sheer size, sustainability, and scope. In light of Europe’s long standing role as a top investor in the US, more and more European companies are looking to make a move. There are various factors and as we know it’s a good place to do business, and this year’s Foreign Direct Investment Confidence Index proved it once again, as the US managed to stay at its very top for the 7th year in a row. The main reasons why foreign investors like to do business here are a business-friendly regulatory environment, skilled workforce, technological capabili es, and a large domes c market. Recovering from the shock of vo ng in Trump, the na on’s resilience and entrepreneurial spirit in the face of adversity are providing unparalleled opportuni es for driven companies and investors.

Global investors are taking note, ac vely looking to the US as a set-up location, permanent base, and a growth market. Looking at the numbers more closely, the major sources of FDI in the US are the UK, Canada, and Japan. Interestingly, Japan is considered a major new leading investor, as it announced its inten ons to invest $10 billion in the US in the next 5 years albeit back in 2015. Investment is intrinsically linked to innova on, so when choosing a host loca on the density of tech companies, the share of professionals in STEM fields, R&D spending per capita and the speed of the internet are significant measurable quali es. According to the 2018 Global Innovaon Index, the US lands in sixth place. Experts note that the US s ll holds the top rank in many important indicators, including R&D companies expenditures, venture capital deals, business environment, knowledge impact, and others. europeanbusinessmagazine.com


The US — alongside China and Europe — is also the top market for renewables investment. What is more, REN21 data showed that renewable investment is on a generally upward trend in the US, with 8,5 gigawatts of utility PV projects announced in the first half of 2018. The US has become increasingly commi ed to the use of renewable energy, opening up new investment opportuni es, and corporate America is trending toward greening its energy. Supporting this initiative, the US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $32 million funding for small business-led projects to further develop clean energy technologies as the renewable energy race is producing nothing but winners across the board. While the na on con nues to depend on carbon-based technologies, the

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winds of change are clearly blowing toward a brighter and cleaner future. There are a few players in the field that you should get familiar with when it comes to business and investments — think Utah, California, and Colorado. Utah’s economy has been among the more robust and fastest growing in the US. Wells Fargo economist Charlie Dougherty noted that “you’re seeing a lot of job growth, seeing a lot of people moving into the state, a lot of companies moving in the state, and so there are a lot of good things happening in the state of Utah.“ The bank’s report stated that collabora on between business, labor, and government is among the reasons why Utah consistently ranks among the best states to do business and invest in.

Established tech advocates like eBay, Oracle, Microso , and Twi er have caught wind of this well-known secret and expanded their opera ons here during the last few years as well. California is another state to watch. Full of na onal parks and beau ful nature, inhabitants are encouraged to exploit all that sunshine, with an objective to reach 33% renewable energy output by 2022. The Golden State had already soaked up enough rays to generate 67.2% of its energy from renewable sources, leading the way in terms of clean energy. It is also among the na on’s leaders in job and wealth crea on, the main reasons for this being its crea ve culture and infrastructure that nurtures novel ideas. It is also a top state for investment in young companies. Then there’s also Colorado.Internaonal businesses all over the globe

see it as a foreign direct investment destination, as this state provides many unique advantages. Companies love Colorado for its business-friendly environment and highly educated workforce. The costs for doing business here for internaonal players are significantly lower compared to ci es on the East and West coasts. Top industries in Colorado include healthcare, financial services, telecommunications, and energy. Also, Colorado’s aerospace economy is booming right now as well, being second only to California’s: it has 180 aerospace companies and more than 500 businesses that provide space-related products and services. With the highest concentra on of so ware engineers per capita, Colorado is a place to be for tech startups, producing six mes the na onal average.

Innovation and entrepreneurship thrive here with two of Colorado’s cities, Fort Collins and Boulder, among America’s 10 most innova ve tech hubs. A robust labor market and an unyielding inflow of newcomers provide Colorado with one of the most dynamic economies in the country. Colorado, the second most highly educated state in the na on, offers a peaceful, affordable alternative to the bigger ci es and, thanks to Denver International Airport and its 25 international destinations, businesses can stay connected all day long. We have a few interes ng numbers for you right here.From 2009 through 2018, 177 interna onal companies from 34 countries invested in Colorado and completed 195 projects, created 7,215 jobs, and invested $2.1 billion in capital.

Canada, Kuwait, Germany, Singapore, South Korea…these are just a few countries form the list that during the last three years maintained the top spots in terms of foreign investment in Colorado. It’s obvious: Colorado is growing, and money is coming from all over the world. It has also recorded some of the highest GDP growth in the en re country over the last few years. More and more new people — especially millennials — are choosing Colorado to call their home. Jimmy Sengenberger, president and CEO of the Denver-based Millennial Policy Center, noted that “By moving in greater numbers to Colorado, millennials bring with them a modern perspecࢼve and skill sets, parࢼcularly modern-day tech-know-how, which will help keep the ciࢼes vibrant and relevant for many years to come.” Colorado really lives up to its label: “The Happiest Place to Live“. It is also the best place to do business in, and the top state for job opportuni es.



Artificial Intelligence in the Banking Sector:

How, Where and What to Expect


he next big thing in the banking and financial services industry is already here, and it’s ar ficial intelligence (AI). Financial institutions around the world are making large-scale investments in AI, and the numbers are impressive. It is estimated that total investment will reach more than $80billion by 2025, compared to the almost $4billion invested in 2017. Furthermore, according to the 84-page report published by Autonomous Research, within the next ten years these investments will save the financial industry $1trillion in costs. If that last number seems high to you, Autonomous Research is not the only one in the field with such an impressive forecast; Accenture and Bain & Company also both predict savings of more than $1trillion, by 2035. With such a huge level of investment pouring into various AI technologies, the possibili es seem almost endless, and Global Market Insights revealed what this means for AI’s financial

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market value – that by 2024, it will grow by as much as 30%.

the industry is becoming more prone to fraud than ever before.

Today, the term ‘Ar ficial Intelligence’ is used to describe anything from automa ng simple tasks to handling complex thinking assignments.

A few years ago, the US banking industry lost more than $2billion due to credit fraud, online banking and electronic transactions. In the UK, financial institutions lost over $466million in the first half of 2017.

We are all familiar with the prevalence that AI now has in our everyday lives – it tells us tomorrow’s weather forecast when we ask, it can park a car, it can even defeat the world’s best chess player. And now, it’s disrup ng the banking and finance industry – in all manner of areas, from risk management, predic ve analysis and trading, to underwri ng and claims. AI and its integra on in the banking and finance industry certainly has its benefits – think process automa on, accuracy, reduc on in human error, the cost cuts that we’ve men oned before, scalability. But that’s not all. The banking and finance industry grows by the second; millions of transactions are done online, at all hours of the day, all across the globe. This means that

And this is where AI enters the arena, as it is recognised as being a great tool in helping banks become more efficient in the process of detec ng fraud and money laundering, whilst at the same me crea ng a more secure financial environment overall, as AI engineers have developed tools and systems that can automa cally idenfy irregulari es or pa erns in transac ons that might seem suspicious. And further uses and opportuni es of AI are constantly being iden fied and developed. One of the banking giants, Ci bank, has already adopted a new an -money-laundering structure and is using AI to prevent criminal ac vi es and monitor poten al threats to its customers.

There’s also personalized banking – a niche where AI truly shines. Although some argue that increasing automa on can result in reduced customer loyalty due to less personal contact, banks and financial ins tuons around the world understand the importance of keeping their customers happy and connected, and AI can actually support this well, as it enables banks and financial ins tu ons to create more personalized consumer products. For example, by collecting data on customers’ spending habits, banks can advise and recommend the best op ons for each customer’s unique circumstances – offering financial advice based on their spending patterns, their best op ons on how to save money, and customized mortgages, auto loans and other financial products. The biggest US banks – Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo – have all launched mobile banking apps that provide customers with reminders to pay bills, plan their expenses and interact with their bank in an easier and more streamlined way. They are using AI to increase client sa sfacon, improve efficiency and maintain customer loyalty in many different ways. When you think about it, the capabili es of AI seem almost endless – but what about its long-term impacts? R. Jesse McWaters, who is leading the Disrupࢼve Innovaࢼon in Financial Services project at the World Economic

Forum (WEF), says that the long-term impacts of AI may be even more radical and transforma ve than we first imagined. Expanding on this further, Chris Middleton – a specialist of robo cs, AI, the IoT, blockchain and technology strategy, noted that, “If AI can automate fraud detec on – a big plus for the technology in the WEF’s es maon – then, logically, it may also automate fraud itself, or make it harder to detect.” And these are not the only two with such opinions. A report by several US and UK experts on the malicious use of AI, revealed that a range of various security threats, including cyber, poli cal and physical, arise due to the growth in the capabili es and reach of AI. Some experts worry that the widescale adop on of AI in the financial sector could have disastrous consequences that would be nearly impossible to reduce, such as T. Berners-Lee – creator of the World Wide Web, who recently outlined a scenario in which AI had too much control in the financial sectors, “So when AI starts to make decisions such as who gets a mortgage, that’s a big one. Or which companies to acquire, and when AI starts creating its own companies, crea ng holding companies, generating new versions of itself to run these companies. So you have survival of the fi est going on between these AI companies un l you reach the point where you wonder if it becomes possible to understand how to ensure

they are being fair, and how do you describe to a computer what that means anyway?” When you think about it, in today’s app-driven world, AI has immense poten al for the banking and finance industry. It brings automation and simplifies processes. It protects against fraud, and it allows personaliza on. But despite the potential benefits, people around the world are not that comfortable with ar ficial intelligence yet. A recent survey conducted by SAS, the leader in analy cs, revealed that when presented with a variety of real-world AI scenarios, the majority of people were more at ease with AI in various healthcare se ngs, than in banking. The only area in which consumers seem to be comfortable with banks and financial ins tu ons using AI, is in monitoring threats such as fraud. The least popular use of AI being that of analysing consumer credit history to make a credit card recommenda on. There is no doubt that AI’s role in the banking and financial system is increasing, and its effect is no less than transforma ve. But keeping in mind that it also has the power to disrupt the economy, proper supervision and regulation are needed. Only then can possible negative consequences be avoided, and – step by step – people around the world can better understand the poten als, and learn to trust AI with their finances.




Work Smarter, Not Harder By Ritam Gandhi, Founder and Director - Studio Graphene


nnova ve technologies like ar ficial intelligence (AI) are transforming the way businesses are able to undertake mundane and repetitive tasks. By processing voluminous reams of data in seconds, AI toolsets are being deployed in an increasing number of organisa ons to improve the way they operate. However, there remains a disparity between those companies willing to adopt or experiment with AI, and those showing resistance. According to a recent global report which surveyed over 3,000 business

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execu ves, only 23% of businesses have incorporated AI into their processes or offerings. Paradoxically, 83% of the respondents said that AI is a strategic priority for their business today. Now that helpful AI tools are widely available to large and small businesses alike, what are some simple ways that business leaders can reap the benefits of this technology?

How managers can benefit from AI and improve company efficiency According to a recent study by Accenture, administra ve tasks performed by project managers took up

a significant 54% of their overall work me. The study also found that only 10% of a manager’s me is spent on strategic planning. The lack of me available to managers for strategic planning can have a dras c impact on the way they are able to perform more high-end tasks. Not only does it limit crea vity and problem solving, it reflects an ineďŹƒcient alloca on of resources. This is where AI comes in. Shifting repe ve tasks like scheduling and reporting to AI toolsets can free up managers to eec vely oversee the delivery of different projects, and removes the risk of them being bogged down by administra ve work. Another benefit is the reduced risk of error. Humans are prone to making

mistakes. By contrast, AI solutions use independent reasoning and intelligence to complete a task and can thereby increase the accuracy of an ac on being undertaken.

So what are some solutions that businesses can try their hands at? Tools like x.ai solve the hassle of scheduling mee ngs and appointments, with AI-powered personal assistants performing these tasks instead of draining the precious me of employees. Meanwhile, solu ons like AISense have made creating meeting notes infinitely simpler through their ability to capture and transcribe human speech. What’s more, this par cular tool is available as a feature of Zoom, which makes it easily accessible even to small organisa ons.

Revolutionising recruitment Finding the right team is at the heart of any business. There’s a good reason why companies divert so much me and resource towards finding, securing and retaining the right talent. When dealing with swathes of applications and a large candidate pool, however, this is no easy feat.

Powered by machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP), these chatbots are also constantly improving the quality of their responses based on user feedback. Op mising the recruitment process means providing the best possible experience for candidates, and these capabili es ensure that candidates are well-supported throughout their applica on. It’s important to note, however, that the best results come from technology and people working together. Humans are s ll the ul mate decision makers when it comes to choosing the right person, but AI solu ons are there to make this process inherently quicker and simpler.

Setting and reaching business goals We cannot discuss the benefits of AI in the workplace without also looking at how it can help businesses achieve their set targets and milestones. AI has even made its mark on this sphere; goal setting software is

helping business leaders and project managers set and achieve key target results. It does so by learning from input such as previous target results and management behaviours, before offering valuable, data-driven insights which can op mise the goal-se ng processes. WorkBoard is a notable leader in this field, giving businesses the opportunity to grow sustainably through careful planning. Amongst other things, this AI so ware can automate business reviews and management repor ng, offer progress reports on key results and success metrics, and ul mately help businesses meet their personal goals. Reaping the benefits of technologies like AI doesn’t have to be needlessly complicated. All it takes is businesses maintaining an open-minded attitude and a willingness to embrace new opportunities when possible. And with the number of AI tools at companies’ disposal expanding every day, businesses large and small are encouraged to explore how they can u lise these solu ons.

What if AI could simplify all this? Parcularly in the screening stage, AI solu ons come in handy when si ing through applica ons and determining which candidates possess the mandatory skills and experience needed for a posi on. This can be done by programming a number of keywords or phrases for an AI algorithm to look for, therea er picking out the candidates who best fit the company’s needs. AI in the form of chatbots or automated messaging services is also an advantageous instrument. Instead of having to individually respond to emails or phone calls, and repeatedly answer the same ques ons about the company or hiring process, chatbots like mya offer applicants the answers they’re looking for at any me of day.

Ritam worked as a consultant for a decade for the likes of Accenture and Bank of America Merrill Lynch before, in 2014, going on to launch Studio Graphene – a firm that specialises in developing blank canvas tech products for small businesses through to large corporates. Working with many startups alongside innovaࢼon teams in more established companies, the London-based agency plans, designs and builds astounding tech products for its clients. What’s more, Ritam and the team also use their experience and experࢼse to help leaders grow their business from ideaࢼon, to launch and beyond. europeanbusinessmagazine.com


Blockchain’s Knock On Effect Emerging technologies are exciting and bring innovaঞon and new opportuniঞes across the globe. They change our life by altering the way we think and operate on a daily basis. Technological innovaঞon can impact a lot more than our daily lives. In fact, it can disrupt enঞre industries and change the way we do business. As new technologies are developed, affected industries are forced to adapt or be replaced. The newest technology that is quickly becoming the next major disrupঞon is blockchain technology. Blockchain is a digital ledger system used to securely record transacঞons. It is poised to impact the way business is done across the globe. Here are nine prominent industries that are slated to be overhauled by blockchain technology in the near future.

The Banking Industry Blockchain technology has the potenঞal to solve several signiCcant problems faced by the banking industry today. Right now banks store money for their customers, and they also handle the transfer of that money. Blockchain inherently has a secure system that would provide permanent records of the millions of transacঞons that take place in the banking industry each day. This ledger system could signiCcantly lower the risk by providing secure records. Furthermore, money could be transferred cheaper and faster by the decentralizaঞon provided by blockchain.

The Real Estate Industry Anyone who has ever purchased or sold a home knows just how much paperwork is involved in a real estate transacঞon. Blockchain technology can completely change the current 38 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

headache that all of these documents cause. By using blockchain, all of the documents and transacঞon records can be stored securely with measurably less work and less cost. According to Piper Moreম, CEO of the Crypto Realty Group and licensed realtor, the use of blockchain can also potenঞally eliminate the escrow process. The technology can create smart contracts that release funding only when the condiঞons are met. Addiঞonally, many people in the process of working with a real estate agent know how frustrating the commission rates can be, with many charging up to 6 percent. Deedcoin is looking to change that with its cryptocurrency-powered plaorm. Through using Deedcoin’s platform and proprietary tokens, those rates decrease to just 1%. Deedcoin’s distributed architecture gives power back to homeowners and buyers by tokenizing the process and eliminaঞng any middlemen, barring direct interacঞons between agents and customers.

The Healthcare Industry The healthcare industry has been in need of a signiCcant disrupঞon when it comes to sharing and storing medical data and records. The potenঞal for error, fraud, and lost records has created distrust between consumers and healthcare providers. Blockchain technology can revamp the trust by securely storing medical records that can be accurately and safely transferred to and accessed by the doctors and people who are authorized. Blockchain will aid in the authorizaঞon and idenঞCcaঞon of people. In fact, one startup called Ontology is already working to make posiঞve,

mulঞ-source idenঞCcaঞon a reality across all industries using the blockchain technology.

The Legal Industry Blockchain technology is poised to disrupt some areas of the legal industry by being able to store and verify documents and data. For example, liঞgaঞon dealing with resolving concerns over wills of the deceased or any other documentaঞon can be eliminated. Records (including wills) stored on the blockchain will be quickly and securely veriCed. Any changes to the documents will be authenঞcated and stored. Blockchain technology can also eliminate legal issues dealing with inheritance, even including cryptocurrency assets. Safe Haven, for example, gives users the opportunity to secure digital assets so that the investor’s legacy can be passed down to his children or designee safely and securely. This technology eliminates lengthy court ba‚les arguing over digital inheritance.

can quickly sort and Cnd potenঞal opportunities. Ethereum’s Smart Contract address allows a secure medium for the pitches, so privacy is maintained.

The Video Industry Video is predicted to form 82% of all Internet traLc by 2021, and blockchain may play a signiCcant role by decentralizing the video infrastructure. Decentralizing video encoding, storage, and content distribuঞon will dramaঞcally reduce the cost of video traLc by tapping into $30 billion in wasted Internet compuঞng services. Startups like VideoCoin are already making good on the promise of freeing up this capital, which will allow enঞrely new and innovaঞve ecosystems of video apps to emerge on the market.

The Education Industry The Cryptocurrency Exchange Industry Digital money is the way of the future, and it is thanks to blockchain that it can be securely transferred and recorded. However, the “mining” required to verify and authenঞcate every transacঞon of digital money requires an enormous amount of computing power. In recent years, this has created a lot of issues on several plaorms when certain transacঞons “ran out of gas” or Czzled out due to the sheer amount of computaঞon required. This issue was cosঞng users valuable ঞme and money. New developments in blockchain technology are changing the way the cryptocurrency exchange industry operates. Zen Protocol has developed an alternaঞve to other plaorms, which has solved the most signiCcant issues in the cryptocurrency space. Unlike other plaorms, Zen Protocol uঞlizes smart contracts that know in advance how much computaঞon each contract requires. That means that unless there is enough “gas” to support that contract, it won’t run.

Politics In the recent past, government parঞes here in the U.S. and around the world have been accused of rigging elecঞon results. But that won’t be possible if blockchain is used because it would take care of voter registraঞon and veriCcaঞon of idenঞty, and it would count the votes to ensure only legiঞmate votes were counted. Gone are the days of recounঞng votes and voঞng day drama.

The Startup Industry With thousands of startups looking for investors, there is no current way for them to get in front of the right investors without jeopardizing the security of their ideas. Likewise, there is no right way for investors to Cnd the companies they are interested in backing. Blockchain technology can change all of that. In fact, it has already started. Companies such as Pitch Ventures are creaঞng a way for startups to pitch investors live in a secure manner. Entrepreneurs create summaries of their product or service and investors

The educaঞon industry is poised to see some signiCcant breakthroughs uঞlizing an emerging version of the Internet that combines blockchain, cryptocurrency, and virtual reality. This new Internet will be known as “3DInternet,” and it has the power to create a global classroom like never before. SocratesCoin is making big moves to make this a reality. The company will create a global community of faculty, students, campuses, and curriculum. The students will encompass all ages, cultures, and locaঞons. SocratesCoin has secured Nauka University, which will uঞlize 3DInternet to unite science, thought leadership and science through educaঞon. Blockchain-distributed ledger technology provides a safe and auditable way to record and transfer data. It can transform the way we live our everyday lives and disrupt any industry that uses data or transacঞons at all. And all of this disrupঞon is a good thing. Whether or not you like to introduce new tech into your life, I think we can all agree that added security to our Cnancial data would give everyone more peace of mind. europeanbusinessmagazine.com


The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Smartphones


rঞCcial intelligence would be the ulঞmate version of Google. It would understand exactly what you wanted, and it would give you the right thing. We’re nowhere near doing that now. However, we can get incrementally closer to that, and that is basically what we work on”, said Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, in the early 2000s. A lot has changed since then, in fact it is changing by the week and the biggest impact of AI is within smartphones. Rasa Butrim reports. Over 17 years later a[er Larry Page said the above, opportuniঞes and perspecঞves when it comes to ArঞCcial Intelligence (AI) are now almost unlimited. AI is everywhere now, encountering us in every step we take: computers, cars, phones, smart houses, you name it. Endless studies show that people now use smartphones more than their computers. And so, disrupঞve innovaঞons

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shi[ed the enঞre user experience in this Celd as well. Last year showed some impressive numbers of sold smartphones to end users worldwide: can you imagine that 1.5 billion smartphones were purchased? And what’s even more, in 2016 smartphones were acquired 5.6 ঞmes more o[en than computers. Roughly, by the year 2021, more than 60 percent of people all over the world will own a smartphone. As smartphones can now oLcially be called the most used device worldwide, it’s no wonder that they have also became a convenient plaorm for AI. Technically, it means that a smartphone’s processor has a certain secঞon with one exact funcঞon, which is to understand exactly what you want and give it to you. Just like L. Page wished 17 years ago. To put it di@erently, in the near future, smartphones will become even more smart and intelligent, not only assuring

various unique opportuniঞes for its users, but also the ability to take certain acঞons for him. What does it mean for consumers? ArঞCcial Intelligence will bring much more change to smartphone’s industry than we might imagine. From now on, AI will let your phone know more about you, while automaঞcally providing various services and opportuniঞes on its own. Such devices will process data right there, in the phone itself and, accordingly to your habits and desires, will take certain acঞons. Experts claim that smartphones with AI will be able to read and recognise our emoঞons and even foresee how they can change. That is, if one day you’ll be feeling bad about something, your smartphone will automaঞcally pick a more fun playlist on your way to work in order to make you feel be‚er, and a[er sensing that you are ঞred, it will tell you to go get a co@ee. Trying to quietly talk to someone in an extremely loud environment will become easier as well: smartphones with AI will let your friend hear you clearly, as it will simply exclude you from the noise while also suppressing it.

Also, smartphones with AI will be able to understand the photo that you’ve just taken and decide what should be done with it. Now, soon a[er taking a photo, we tend to completely forget about it. Well, AI will analyse what is photographed and take acঞon, as well as Cnd a free day in your calendar, buy you a ঞcket, Cnd out when the newest movie that you are interested in will be available to watch and tell you when to leave the house if you don’t want to get late. Basically, AI in smartphones will change the way that we are communicaঞng with each other via many di@erent programs and apps. In other words, smartphones with AI will completely adjust to your life. Something like having a fullঞme personal assistant, who knows everything about your habits, interests and even the overall feeling. ArঞCcial Intelligence via your smartphone will make a big impact on health care as well, and the process seems rather simple: healthcare apps will scan your body, analyse the gathered informaঞon and make conclusions. Business people will beneCt from AI as well: smartphones will be able to organise conference calls, various tasks and important meeঞngs for you,

as well as record anything you need and even write it down later. The best part here is that your smartphone will be able to idenঞfy such things that are most important to you and…well, deliver them. AI in smartphones is already a strong moঞvaঞon for consumers to want more, and as prices are falling and features strongly improving, we can witness an amazing growth of technological usage, parঞcularly among millennials. People are especially interested in using such AI services as voice, smart trip assistants and entertainment advisers. Moreover, for most consumers voice assistants remain the most important thing when it comes to ArঞCcial Intelligence, and we strongly doubt that anything can change in this secঞon, as long as such digital assistants will be able to Cnd answers sooner and solve occurred problems quicker than a web search or a person. The main goal of AI is to ensure a significantly better experience for consumers in every step they take, and top-leaders of innovaঞons, such as Huawei’s head of Consumer So[ware and director of AI Engineering Felix Zhang, expect that AI will

fundamentally change the smartphone and transform user and business experience across tradiঞonal industries by the year of 2020. With AI’s help, smartphones as we now know them will be fundamentally changed to the intelligent phones with strongly improved eLciencies and services, as well as various features. ArঞCcial Intelligence can be described in many ways, but when it comes to smartphones, it’s an a‚empt to understand human intelligence and human cogniঞon. For now, smartphones and AI are just geমng familiar with one another, and this also means that we get to witness this unique process from its very beginning. Soon, our connecঞons with smartphones will be ঞghter than ever, as they will become even more personalised and intellectual. The main goal of integraঞng AI to smartphones is to make consumers feel as comfortable as possible, whether its health, business, hobbies or li‚le things of everyday life. The sky is truly the only limit when it comes to AI, and we are more than sure that upcoming year will bring us even more news, innovaঞons and improvements when it comes to integraঞng AI to smartphones. europeanbusinessmagazine.com


The World Beyond Cash:

Prepaid Popularity Skyrockets


e live in a digital world. Things around us are getting faster, smarter and more connected every day. Almost everything is digital now – from customer relationships all the way through to our finances. Prepaid cards are just one of those products born out of digitaliza on and they are here to stay and in a big way.European Business reports. Banking is one of the world’s oldest industries, has been changing drascally thanks to the force of modern technology. According to a new study by Accenture, financial technology – or FinTech as it is now more commonly known – is pulling customers away from the big banks at a surprising rate, now taking over one-third of new revenue. Using traditional banking services and having a bank account may seem a matter of course for most of us, however, the World Bank last year released official data about global financial inclusion, and the results were not what you might expect – repor ng that as much as 1.7 billion of the world’s popula on doesn’t use a bank account. Explaining the main reasons behind this, Keith Weigelt, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business noted that, “A lot of people don’t trust banks, and they don’t trust banks for good reasons. Banks don’t really look out for them as consumers”, with high overdraft fees, huge inefficiencies, lack of realtime processing and transparency being some of the most quoted and notable factors. So, perhaps it was always just a ma er of me before efficient, real-time, affordable and secure innovative solutions finally disrupted the financial industry.

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Pu ng it simply, people today just don’t trust banks like they used to, and this is why more and more consumers around the world are now turning to non-traditional banking alterna ves. And this is where prepaid cards enter the arena. Prepaid cards have, for quite some me, been seen as a sort of poor alterna ve to a debit or credit card. However, the prepaid sector has become a driving force for FinTech companies around the world, step by step transforming the way we pay and get paid. Prepaid cards have been around for more than a decade now, meeting various payment needs and different customer segments, such as gi ing and payroll processing, consumer transit and travel expenditure, healthcare and insurance. In recent years however, not only has the prepaid card industry started booming, but it has become perhaps the most popular tradi onal banking alterna ve. Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-profit organisation based in Philadelphia, interviewed almost 600 unbanked people in order to question them about the best traditional banking alterna ves, with 72% repor ng that they use prepaid cards instead of tradi onal financial services. The global prepaid cards market, which is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, La n America, Middle East and Africa, was valued at $892 billion in 2017, and is es mated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 22.7% until 2022, at which point it will reach $3,653 billion. Europe dominates the prepaid market in terms of revenue, accoun ng

for more than a 49.1% share of the global market, followed by Asia-Pacific where – according to Mastercard figures – prepaid is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 18.9%. Interes ngly, the world’s biggest market for prepaid credit cards – with more than 25 million prepaid cards issued – is Italy. Italians generally don’t trust the banks, and their a tudes towards traditional financial institutions – largely compounded by repeated financial crises in the country and online security concerns – have helped develop a preference for prepayment within the country. Ma Lanford, Head of Prepaid Europe at Mastercard, noted that prepaid in Europe is growing at a rapid rate for a simple reason: “Prepaid is aligning very well with new, innova ve technologies such as mobile and contactless, and we see prepaid is being used over and over again in many emerging technologies. I really believe that prepaid is this pla orm for innova on, enabling a lot of this to take place.”

The list of the key players in the prepaid sector doesn’t end here. There is also NetSpend Holdings, H&R Block, American Express Company, Prepaid Financial Services, BBVA Compass Bancshares, Mango Financial, UniRush and Kaiku Finance. However, let’s look at the prepaid sector from another angle for a moment. Finance plays a crucial role in our society – risk management, entrepreneurship, promo on, poverty allevia on and inequality reduc on… the list goes on. All financial ins tu ons – including FinTech companies, whether they’re aware of it or not – have a significant impact on communi es. Not only can they deliver good commercial returns, but they can also improve the financial well-being for the most vulnerable individuals in our society, making a real difference.

Originally, prepaid cards were designed to target customers with minimal access to financing or bank accounts. However, their appeal has since broadened, attracting tradional banking customers as well. Prepaid cards are par cularly popular amongst younger consumers – millennials and Gen Xers specifically – with many ci ng not only the avoidance of overdra fees and debt, but also freedom and flexibility as mo va ng factors. But there are more reasons that the prepaid sector is growing so quickly – and they are all prac cal: Prepaid can be used by anyone, anywhere in the world, and there is no need to have a bank account to own a prepaid card. Nor is there a need for a credit ra ng, nor does income ma er, making it a great banking subs tute for people with lower incomes. It’s safer than cash, more convenient than cheques, and as Sankar Krishnan – Head of the Global Client

Engagement of Banking & Financial Services at Sutherland Global Services noted, “As governments around the world increasingly drive financial inclusion, prepaid democra ses electronic payments for those outside the tradi onal banking system and provides a transparent, cost-effec ve alterna ve to cash and cheques for both governments and businesses. Prepaid also serves the needs of consumers who find it ideal for segmented spendings such as dining, travel and online shopping.” Tradi onal financial organisa ons are partnering with FinTech and other emerging companies to design products that fit the everyday financial needs of people all around the world. PayPal and Mastercard have developed a prepaid card which links to a user’s PayPal balance; Green Dot, Apple and Discover are launching a virtual prepaid card; and Starbucks is collabora ng with Visa and JPMorgan Chase to create a prepaid card linked to Starbucks Rewards.

And one of the biggest players in the prepaid sector in Europe, Prepaid Financial Services (PFS), has done just that. Together with the UN’s World Food Programme, the company completed a campaign that provided 200,000 school meals to children in a war-torn Mali. In fact, this was the first prepaid campaign of its kind to be approved by the organisa on, demonstrating the positive impact that FinTech companies can have in helping to overcome hunger and poverty. PFS has also collaborated with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to provide aid through prepaid cards to refugees in Greece. This solu on successfully helped over 6,000 refugees, migrants and vulnerable citizens, offering them a prac cal and efficient way of receiving aid and managing their money. Although the prepaid sector is s ll a rela vely young one, prepaid cards are skyrocketing in popularity and driving a future beyond cash. Looking ahead, we can confidently say that prepaid cards are here to stay, as they’re giving us a safe, inexpensive and essen al banking subs tute – especially relevant to people with lower incomes, and the unbanked. europeanbusinessmagazine.com


European Business Magazine Catches up with

Noel Moran CEO of Prepaid Financial Services who started his award winning company from his kitchen in London talks to us about where it all started and more importantly where it is all going. The CEO has not only many awards himself but was the recipient of the very pres gious award from our readers - Ceo of the Year Finance and Technology 2018/19. The company’s record on diversity and inclusion has also won them a place on the exclusive Financial Times FT Future 100 UK 2018/2019 list.

There’s this legend going on about how and when you decided to start a company more than 10 years ago, si ng at the white oak kitchen table. Could you take us to the very beginning of Prepaid Financial Services and tell us a bit more about how it all started?What was the beginning like for you and for the company? It’s not a myth. The reality is that PFS started at the kitchen table in my apartment in Paddington. It was a struggle to get our first deal for 5,000 cards. We certainly had to persevere and today we have issued over 6 million cards. That ini al contract was the founda on from which a FinTech empire was rapidly built. It was a tough start - I lost my job in the recession and it had been a while since I had received a regular pay cheque. I knew I had the experience to make this work - I just needed a chance to get the enterprise off the ground. Now, we are one of Europe’s largest electronic money account issuers and innova on is at the core of the company. 44 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

Let’s rewind the clock further to find clues to the inner mechanics of a FinTech mastermind. Noel was an early school leaver when at 17 he decided to start his career in tradional banking in his na ve Ireland. He quickly gained experience with banking and payments leaders in Europe and lived and worked in the UK. In the height of the recession, he had a Financial Technology idea that would save businesses me and money. It s ll does. Anyone who meets Noel cannot help but observe his vision, drive and energy to rewrite the rules of what is possible to deliver in the FinTech and payment ecosystems. This work ethic has won him the pres gious European Entrepreneur of the Year tle for the second year in a row. PFS is coun ng down to Noel’s next major goal, an IPO. From the start, Noel has enjoyed the support of his wife Valerie Moran who was employee No.1. Valerie, Head of Operations & Client Relations, recently entered the history books in the UK as the only black female ever to enter The Sunday Times Rich

List in the 31-edi on history of the publication. Together, they have helped to transform PFS into FinTech’s most innova ve, diverse and inclusive company. What were the main pping points for PFS? The European Business Awards win was significant on a number of fronts. We never expected to win the na onal UK award, never mind become the overall Digital Technology champion for 34 countries in Europe. I was in Poland with my good friend and our Commercial Director, Lee Bri on, for the two days of live judging rounds. It was hard to imagine that we emerged as victors from 112,000 companies across the con nent of Europe. Adrian Tripp, CEO at the European Business Awards said: “Our winners are the gold standard for business excellence. They are also powerful examples of the growth poten al for European business in today’s highly compe ve global marketplace. They deserve their success and we wish them well.”

Another pping point was the successful PFS €1 Million FinTech Innova on Fund, the largest fund of its kind. We are proud to have encouraged and partnered with the next genera on of home-grown entrepreneurs. The compe on was aired on a series of prime me na onal television slots. The company was proud to have been a high-profile incubator for new payment technologies. Both of these pping points earned PFS a heightened amount of press coverage around the world. In recent times, over 4.3 billion people have seen PFS in the news worldwide. In your opinion, what were the most important milestones that the company has reached during the last 10 years in the industry? Without ques on, our greatest milestone has been recording 10 consecu ve years of profitability. Considering that we began in the height of the recession, the accomplishment is all the more compelling. Not only that, but to consistently increase

revenue over the course of a decade is another standout performance for any company. Noel spoke to the interna onal press when the company’s last set of financials were officially made public: “I believe we are one of the few, if not the only, Fintech companies in Europe that has managed to return profits for 10 consecu ve years without taking in any institutional investment. We have grown organically, and our record speaks for itself. We do not have to focus on fundraising, we spend our me focusing on building the business and cu ng costs that will in turn benefit our customers. We are now at a point where it makes sense to look at an IPO and take the company to greater heights.” What special projects did you and PFS par cipate in during this me? It was a special moment for everyone in PFS when the company delivered on the goal of our campaign that set a target of dona ng 200,000 school

meals to children in Mali in West Africa. The country is very much in the news again at the moment. The heartfelt child-centric campaign involved PFS prepaid Mastercard cardholders and £40,000 was presented to the United Na ons World Food Programme (WFP). Patrick McKenna, Partnerships Manager at the United Nations World Food Programme said: “More children in Mali are now benefi ng from access to nutrition and education. Together with PFS and Mastercard, we are helping to end the cycle of hunger and poverty.” You’ve been in this industry for more than 10 years now. In your opinion, what was the biggest challenge that you had to face during that me? FinTech is a highly regulated industry and the Brexit vote created a challenge for us that we have since overcome. Today, we are regulated by the FCA in the UK and the Central Bank of Ireland. This means that



whatever scenarios emerge in the UK and Europe, PFS is fully Brexit-ready.

What were the biggest accomplishments?

Noel said the following when the announcement was made: “The future looks even brighter now for PFS with this announcement. It ensures that no ma er what happens with regards to Brexit, our business is prepared for all scenarios and there will be no impact to our customers and partners. We look forward to enjoying an excellent working relationship with the Central Bank of Ireland in the years to come.”

PFS is now one of only a handful of FinTechs to be double regulated in the UK and Ireland. Receiving a license from the Irish financial Regulator, the Central Bank of Ireland, was a welcome development. The company will con nue to work seamlessly a er any Brexit scenario.

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Another turning point occurred earlier this year when PFS acquired the Barclays physical prepaid card portfolio.

Noel commented on the day of the announcement saying: “We had been in discussion with Barclays regarding their physical prepaid cards and looking at opportuni es to work together. In January, we agreed a deal whereby PFS acquired Barclays’ por olio and would work with Barclays to migrate clients off the exis ng prepaid platform and over to PFS. We are working hard to achieve a seamless migra on for clients of Barclays. The deal will enable PFS to offer an enhanced service to existing and future Payroll and Corporate clients. Adding this

Also, last December, European CEO named you the Entrepreneur of the Year in the Payment Solu ons Industry category. What does it mean for the company and for its customers? Just yesterday, PFS achieved a “Triple Double” by winning three awards back to back for the second year in a row. So far in 2019, PFS has won 8 awards including two global and two European tles. The recogni on highlights the efforts of all the team in the UK, Ireland and Malta. The feedback we have received from various judging panels is very encouraging for the future trajectory of our agile business. What does it mean for you personally? It means we are on track and making an impact in the FinTech universe. Our mission has always been to be a global market leader in delivering the latest innova on and customised payment technology solu ons. The vision hasn’t changed – to deliver efficient and cost-effec ve e-money solutions to market. We are one team and promoting teamwork is where we excel with fast project delivery mes.

Corporate and Payroll portfolio to our exis ng Corporate book further strengthens our posi on in the market as one of the leading payment providers for Corporate customers.” Deloi e Fast 500 EMEA for the 3rd consecu ve year, Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100 for the 5th consecu ve year, European Business Awards, Digital Technology Award — the list of the awards that PFS has won over me is more than impressive.

You have a lot of experience in the banking scene with a lot of exper se in FinTech, e-wallets, IBAN accounts. What are the main goals for you as the CEO of Prepaid Financial Services? The goal remains the same. To run and con nue to grow a successful and profitable company for our clients, cardholders and staff. 11 years into this adventure, I still believe in the power of seeking out and leveraging opportuni es, the right opportuni es. The world should be asking one ques on when it comes to FinTechs – how many consecu ve years of profitability has a company enjoyed? Businesses like PFS are rare and we never took in outside investment.

What specific aims do you see as the most important ones for the company? We are counting down to an IPO which is an important goal for the company. We would like to see revenues con nue to increase year-onyear as well as our overall processing figures. We are looking to Africa and Asia to expand our regulatory status. We aim to operate in several countries in these con nents in the future. The Prepaid market is evolving and changing really quickly. Are there any par cular skills that you need more than others while working in PFS? Resilience is key. We are shaping the future of FinTech and with this comes challenges. This is not an industry for people who give up too soon. So, courage and strength are valuable traits as well as industry experience. Let’s talk about the future. The prepaid market is booming right now, especially in Europe. How do you see this industry evolving over the next 5, 10 years? We predict that Contactless & mobile payments will eradicate cards, and likely also cash, in time. FinTech is becoming more and more consumer-centric as customers want incenves and deals to spend and we are always listening to an ever changing market. Biometrics will see a tidal wave adoption as we never leave home without ours!

Currently in Development: ● A FinTech product that will be a world-first where we will beat tradi onal and challenger banks to market. ● Even more mobile payment/wearables projects with some of the biggest companies in the world. ● A new intelligent app that will surpass anything we have released in the past. europeanbusinessmagazine.com


Executive Coaching: Finding The Right Choice


xecu ve coaching began in the US but in the last few years it has been sweeping through meeting rooms across Europe because employing a coach to help your career move forward makes perfect sense in today’s marketplace. Companies with a strong coaching culture are more at ease implemen ng change and engaging in meaningful business rela onships, both of which are paramount to success in 2019 European Business Reports.

Helping to improve confidence, communica on and create vitality in the workforce alongside assis ng in big career changes, coaching has become a sought-a er service and therefore a popular career choice for many. As many companies con nue to grapple with the digital age, the global coaching industry has grown rapidly with more than 53,300 professional coach prac oners genera ng nearly $2.4 billion in revenue. This is a 19% increase since 2011; and while business leaders continue to look for the next big thing in learning and development, the industry remains fraught with conflicts of interest and blurry lines around the application and authority of coaches, with the lack of firm regula ons and protocols a tangible cause for ongoing debate. While coaching as a business tool con nues to gain legi macy in 2019, the coaching field is unfe ered for professionals, and consequently can be problema c for consumers to navigate. Nevertheless, there is certainly a need to modernise the approaches to workplace learning as e-learning, one-size-fits all training and tradional strategies don’t always reflect the new ways in which people are upskilling and working. For example, a ending whole-day courses or 48 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

weekly workshops may be a burden on an already busy schedule, whereas coaching, with its non-directive approach, builds a trus ng and equal partnership in which people can flourish and realise their true poten al. The modern workforce is also in a state of flux, and while tradi onally people stayed in one job for the majority of their working life, it’s increasingly common to see people float from one job role to another, never s cking with one company for long. This fluidity can cause major problems for growing businesses wan ng to retain high quality employees, and where coaching can play a big role in your staff reten on strategy. Think about the team you lead or the colleagues you work alongside. Their talent and knowledge may be undisputed but the challenge for business leaders’ today is to keep staff mo vated, engaged and produc ve. Coaching is important if you are a manager, but it is also an indispensable tool for inspiring and empowering individuals at every level of an organisa on. Tradi onally, coaching was for top execu ves and focused on developing the capabilities of high-potential performers, but the goals of coaching – to facilitate learning, offer opportunities for growth and encourage con nuous development – are ones that employees at all levels could benefit from. Enlis ng the help of a coach or implemen ng coaching practices shows you care about your staff, value their contribu on and want them to reach their full poten al. Furthermore, ins lling a coaching culture generally translates into more interested, communica ve and involved employees that will, in turn, boost growth and produc vity, allowing the business to remain compe ve.

Merely managing employees work in today’s business landscape is no longer enough to keep talents engaged and the huge increase in technology in recent years has led to a breakdown in communica on skills in the boardroom. With this declining human interac on, managers in innovative, successful companies need to be able to coach and inspire, and organisations should deploy a strategy that allows coaching to permeate throughout. Marshall Goldsmith, a renowned execu ve coach in the US, wrote a book called What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, highligh ng the need for con nuous development for all staff. While the numbers con nue to rise, there’s no defini ve answer on how many execu ve coaches there are in Britain. There are 2,636 people who call themselves executive coaches on LinkedIn, but it is hard to know

how legitimate they all are. Credibility in this field is very important, and approximately 89% of coach practitioners attend accredited or approved coach-specific training, typically making greater annual revenue from coaching than their credenal-less counterparts. Choosing the right coach for your employees, or indeed, the right coaching accreditaon if you wanted to become a coach yourself, is fundamental to success. The three main professional bodies to gain accredita on or to locate a qualified coach from - the Associaࢼon for Coaching (members from more than 40 countries), the European Mentoring & Coaching Council (5,000 members across 67 countries and 20 affiliated countries) and the Internaࢼonal Coach Federaࢼon (more than 19,000 members in more than 100 countries) have formed a global alliance, which has created some much needed clarity

in the world of coaching and mentoring, where untrained individuals who call themselves coaches remain a s cking point within the industry. Over 4/5 of clients’ value cer fica on as a professional standard of quality assurance and customers report be er results working with cer fied coaches. While the global network for professional coaches is going from strength to strength, advances in technology, a vola le geopoli cal landscape and the increasing influence of younger generations in the workplace have significant implica ons for the future of coaching. Leaders who encourage personal connec ons will have more commi ed, sa sfied and produc ve workers, and companies like GSK are already reaping the rewards, reporting a return on investment of $66 million from their Coaching Centre of

Excellence, that makes coaching available to their employees’ worldwide. For global businesses to thrive in a post-Brexit world, they will need their leaders to perform at a worldclass level. An experienced executive coach can measure strengths and weaknesses, develop leadership competencies and act as an impar al sounding board, offering new perspec ves to the table. They will help clients enhance their strategic thinking and improve their produc vity. A PWC survey of global coaching clients concluded that the mean ROI for companies inves ng in coaching was seven mes the investment and over one quarter of respondents reported an ROI of 10 to 49 mes. These are good odds. With those kinds of returns, it’s no wonder that execu ve coaching is in hot demand. europeanbusinessmagazine.com


European Business catches up with

Professor Andrew Kakabadse

to discuss the Board Directors Programme at Henley Business School and how it facilitates board members to create and deliver value to the team, the company and the shareholders. He previously led a major £2 million global study of boardroom effec veness and governance prac ce. The Board Director’s Programme is based on impressive research amongst 5500 boards in 23 countries. What were the biggest challenges in the crea on process? What was the best lesson that you’ve learned along the way? The original research was with top teams, and had we had not conducted that research we may not have appreciated some of the tensions and problems that management face. The total number of top teams and boards is

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now well over 19,500 across 43 countries, and we have conducted approximately 15 surveys over the last 20 years. The challenge is while board directors may know exactly what’s going on, so few act. We found that organisa ons tended to pursue a strategy, strongly championed by a small group of people. If that strategy was not then opened up to scru ny problems arose. When concerns surfaced and we were approached to address these problems, we gained maximum insight into what was going wrong. It o en centred on rela onships on the

board, with various people afraid to raise issues. Organisa ons can overcompensate on compliance and by so doing allow a compliance mentality to take hold. Unless the company has a gi ed chair, board members can take the opportunity not to be held responsible for addressing the challenges all wish them to face. In contrast those organisa ons with a stewardship mentality do consistently better. There may not be huge growth, but it is steady, sustainable and secure. The balance between compliance/control and stewardship/ facilita on is key.

As you’ve once men oned, the Board Director’s Programme concentrates on what seems to work. What aspects do you see as the vital ones for developing the strategic alignment in the boardroom? There are so many courses that are essentially about role and compliance, but there is little about the reality of what that company is like, the reality of the rela onships on the board, the reality of what to do with a board that is divided on vision. So, the stewardship side, which can make or break a company, is why we focus our Master’s degree in Board Practice and Directorship (MABPD) on this topic. Our purpose is to enable board members to become far be er stewards. The content, includes risk, reputa on, finance, communica ons, coaching and resilience. These issues are talked about but we take them to greater depth. We use psychometrics instruments on our Programme so that people can walk away with a real understanding, not only of their strengths and weaknesses, but apprecia ng that there is no one ‘X factor’ solu on. Each way forward is unique to each company. Addi onally, many board members give mixed messages because of market changes. So, what they said in September may not be true in April, and this can cause confusion and a loss of trust. How one deals with these inconsistencies and still remain authentic when being pulled and pushed in various ways is the holy grail of enhancing board and director performance. The Programme contains different experts from various industries. Could you tell us a bit more about the speakers and contributors that take part? The idea is to expose the par cipants to as many ideas as possible and to create new knowledge. We have access to people who have high experience of boards, who have credibility but who are also academically knowledgeable about meeting academic standards. The coaching, counselling and developing of board directors

is crucial, as unbelievably in our UK survey, over 85% of board directors could not tell you what is the competi ve advantage of their firm. That on its own tells me something about the poor understanding board directors have of their own organisa on. In your opinion, are there any specific competencies or capabili es that are more important than others that board directors should be able to display? How does the Board Director’s Programme help develop them? We have done work on this and one of them is IQ. Each director has to be

able to make sense of the massive amount of data that comes to their way, and must develop a na ve intelligence to come up with the compelling argument. IQ capacity is in high demand. The second is poli cal skills. You do need an EQ sensi vity, but the board is not a team. The board is a mee ng place of varied interests. The poli cal quo ent (PQ) to understand how to negotiate, maintain rela onships and be clear about the agenda you and others are trying to push is cri cal. That PQ skill is about nego a ng the impossible into the possible. The third key requirement is resilience. Board members need to be emotionally tough, to soak up pressure, show calm and s ll be europeanbusinessmagazine.com


humble, thinking and considerate but underneath this must be a depth of resilience (RQ). Within all of the sessions and workshops, all these Qs are integral. Boards speak a lot about ethics but the actual prac ce is minimal. The moral quo ent (MQ) drops in terms of ac on. Reputa on is so important and that’s why we have a whole section dedicated to it, and how to defend it. There are two Board Director’s Programmes: the Introduc on to Boards Programme and the first Master’s Degree for prac sing board directors. What are the main differences between them? In your opinion, what are the main things that make these Programmes really effec ve? There are two courses available at Henley – a 2-day course and the Master’s Degree. The big difference is that the 2-day execu ve educaon programme has no exams, no assessment. The Master’s Degree Programme, the first in the world for board directors, takes up to 5 years and it is split into 3 parts. There is the cer ficate part, the diploma part and the Master’s Degree which is about undertaking a project examining challenges faced by each candidate’s board. The cer ficate is 3 modules, finance, risk and a board dynamics and leadership module. On the diploma side we have coaching, reputa on and board informa on/ communica on. With all each candidate must write a paper, complete a case study and share experiences with their team. Each candidate must pass each module in order to continue. If the individual passes, they receive a university approved qualifica on leading ul mately to a Master’s Degree. Why do all this? The market is changing and board directors are increasingly going to be held to account. So, when in difficulty they will need a defence, and in court they can say ‘I have been professionally trained’. The board director role will sooner or later be professionalised, so certificates of attendance, with no independent assessment, will no longer suffice. 52 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

The Boards Director’s Programme covers many different topics — from how to maximize the compe ve advantage for sustainable success to the importance of corporate, social and community responsibility. What is your favourite objec ve of the en re Programme and why? There is one clear objective. As a board member you must be able to state what value you bring to the board and to the organisa on. To do that you must understand the business of the organisa on, you have to understand where the weaknesses lie, and you need to understand the culture. The MABPD Programme allows each candidate to consider how they deliver real value. Currently few directors are required to do that. Our detailed research has revealed that in the UK there was not one company where the management respected their board. The underra ng of the board director’s performance by top management was 40%. The one reason that stood out was that the board was viewed as out of touch. This needs to change and the Board Director’s Programme is designed to assist much better engagement between the board and the management.

Let’s talk about the future. In your opinion, how will the corporate governance sector evolve over the next 5, 10 years? Governance is going to become ever more prominent and important. The public confidence in politicians, in management, in leaders is dropping fast. Partly it’s their doing and partly it’s the changing nature of the markets and disruptive technologies. There are many complexi es but the only way to handle them is to have a process which enables management or gets rid of management but based on sound evidence. Boards and governance are going to become ever more important because the problems that we are facing are more complex, more demanding and more unpredictable. Yet, the way we are going about governance is s ll focused on compliance. So, we have all the procedures, the processes and the protocols on the board, essenally cking boxes, when what we need more of is, stewardship. The implica on of all of these changes is that board members need to spend more time in the company and through the insights they gain respond faster and more effec vely to challenges and thus become better stewards.

Doing Business in the Age of Disruption Climate change which will cause people to move inland. Disruptive technologies that will lead to an explosion of craft economies. Millennials who prefer experiences to products. Richard Fitzpatrick examines how the Age of Disruption and AI is going to profoundly change the world of commerce. Mathew Donald


he world is changing fast. Perhaps no more is this evident than in the move by people from rural to urban areas. The UN es mates that by 2050 68% of the world’s population is expected to live in cities. This will have a profound effect on business, par cularly because most of the world’s greatest ci es – think New York, Hong Kong, Sydney – are based by the sea, which are suscep ble to poten al climate changes. According to the Financial Times, for example, 570 coastal ci es will be vulnerable to a sea-level rise of 0.5 metres by 2050. This will greatly impact how companies do business and how they hire and retain staff.

“With climate change, it really doesn’t ma er what poli cal stance you take on whether it’s going to happen or not,” says Dr Mathew Donald, author of Leading and Managing Change in the Age of Disrupࢼon and Arࢼficial Intelligence. “The fact is that if a whole swathe of the community believes that it’s real then over me people will start to think about where they live and what sorts of companies they choose to work for. Over me, they will work out that property prices that are high for low-lying, coastal properes at the moment may well become devalued ahead of any poten al sea rises because people will believe they’re such a risk they’ll move away. “Therefore companies will have issues to address. On the first hand, people won’t necessarily want to work

for high-carbon polluters. We can see that already star ng to happen. Likewise, from an organisa onal perspec ve apart from a rac ng people because you might be a high-pollu ng organisa on, you’ll also have issues if you’re located on a coastal property – and all your best staff have moved further away – it will be harder to a ract good employees because of the commuting distances involved. It’ll be harder because your organisaon may not have a carbon neutral policy. Staff will have an emo onal response to climate changes as well as a financial one.” In the brave new world of increased automation and artificial intelligence (AI), much has been written about the threat to tradi onal forms of employment and the fear that robots will replace many of today’s job, from blue-collar factory work to more highly skilled work in sectors like accoun ng, healthcare and law. It’s not all doom and gloom, however. AI will also create opportuni es. Disrup ve technologies will enable more than they will destroy, argues the futurist Ian Pearson. “People always talk about AI in terms of automa on and redundancy,” says Pearson. “But AI won’t so much automate as help workers to up-skill – it will allow them spend more me on be er quality work. We should see AI more in terms of being a co-worker rather an automa on role. It’s true if you’re se ng up a new factory, you

Ian Pearson might get away without using many people in your automated manufacturing plant, but most jobs aren’t in manufacturing. Most jobs are in offices. A lot of roles are in trying to influence people to buy your product, or leading your staff and doing appraisals, which require human contact skills. “Another area is automated transport. A few taxi drivers will inevitably lose their jobs because autonomous vehicles will do all the work of today’s cab drivers and bus drivers, and they can do it a lot be er. On the other hand, the number of jobs that will create will be far higher. Here’s the reason. If you’ve got drones, self-drive cars and an automated distribution system, which can arrive at your house, pick something up, drop it somewhere else, and you don’t need companies europeanbusinessmagazine.com


that are expensive to employ to drop it there, the cost of doing an awful lot of business comes down significantly. At the same me, AI is making it much easier to work from home and to convert your hobbies into a start-up business. “For example, one of my friends makes really nice wedding cakes. She doesn’t have any business knowledge. If you said, ‘You make really nice wedding cakes. Why don’t you make a business out of it?’ she’d be horrified. She’d have to register for VAT and fill in tax forms for the Inland Revenue. Every five minutes, the government invents a new form if you run a small business. Imagine if all of that was taken care of by a futurisc version of [virtual assistant] Alexa that talks to the government’s version of Alexa. Between them they sort out the corporate admin. Suppose she 54 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

doesn’t have to worry about packing and delivery because it’s automated. Another area is 3D printing, which is moving into kitchens, so all those hours making elaborate icing decora ons she will be able to 3D-print those. AI will generate a whole new cra economy.” The way people will spend their money is also set to change, which will create different opportunities. Although we’re coming out of a recession, people are getting richer. At present the UK economy, for example, is growing at a rate of 2-2.5% per annum. Over a few decades that has a huge impact on average wealth. By 2050, the UK economy will be 2.5 mes bigger than it is today. If people are be er off, they will be able to buy more luxury goods. Pearson sees a counter-trend – people are becoming a lot more environmentally aware and

because of house prices are living in smaller spaces. “Millennials are not buying as much stuff because they haven’t got anywhere to put it,” says Pearson. “They’re spending their money on experiences. It’s called ‘The Experience Economy’. People are doing more and buying less. They’re spending more on travel. That might be a persistent trend that lasts a long me. They’ll buy fewer, higher-quality clothes and make them last longer rather than the disposable clothes on sale today. “We’re seeing a lot of these trends, which are quite interes ng because they oppose each other. On the one hand, people are ge ng richer, and this is a global trend – it’s not just in the UK. On the other hand, people are ge ng more environmentally conscious. It’s anybody’s guess which direc on it might pan out.”

With smarter technologies comes smarter banks. Smarter banks increase efficiency and so things gets done quicker. And that is what has led us to Euro Exim Bank.

We talk to

Graham Bright who discusses amongst the myriad of awards the banks has won how they are helping companies processing payments cross border become easier and quicker. The world of impor ng and expor ng just got be er.

Last year, Euro Exim Bank won The Best Global Trade Services Bank Award, and it is o en referred to as a “revolu onary financial ins tu on”. In your opinion, what dis nguishes Euro Exim Bank from other financial ins tu ons in this field? Agility, speed, service levels, infrastructure, compe ve pricing and vision. Global banks are re-risking, cu ng conven onal business es, closing low value customer accounts and generally reducing their risk appe te for clients in infrequently traded markets and in jurisdictions where the perception is that trade is hampered by a con nued legacy of fraud, corrup on and financial impropriety. In reality, there are many countries with growing economies, especially in Africa, which are supplying raw materials fuelling the manufacturing powerhouses of the Far East. They are ready, willing and able to trade successfully and securely, and we see growing interest from those countries for financial instruments facilita ng bilateral trade. We have focused our a en on on this market with the skills and infrastructure to meet these requirements and look at all business opportuni es. What are the biggest goals for 2019? Our 2019 goals are to have our systems fully integrated, delivering real- me payments, offering global cross-border merchant facili es with an expanded branch network and handling fiat and cryptocurrencies, suppor ng our primary business in trade finance. What trends do you see emerging right now when it comes to smart banking?

Financial ins tu ons are more aware than ever of the rise of Fintech companies, which could surpass the banks in terms of payment technology and trust. And smart/open banking is just another project that is forcing the industry to innovate on an unprecedented scale by rethinking their singular focus on products. Tradi onal high street banks need to emulate service-oriented so ware companies, to a ract and hold onto their customers with compelling, personalised user experiences. For us, the main trends are the adop on of Ripple technology and the crea on of a world-leading trade finance pla orm – not as a goal for the business, but as a powerful enabler. Indeed, Fintech is the key component, ensuring the error-prone manual processes within the trade finance ecosystem are automated, reducing mes to sa sfy client demands for faster KYC processes and on-boarding, economic and cost-effec ve crea on of trade instruments and fric onless cross-border payments across financial communica ons networks. Ul mately Fintech is providing the means towards systems interoperability, normalisaon and consolida on of data, standardisa on of flows and re-usability, adding up to significant savings for the ins tu ons. europeanbusinessmagazine.com


Euro Exim Bank is the first official bank to adopt Ripple’s xRapid. There are plans to use XRP to power payments across 80 countries. Could you tell us more about this partnership? Firstly, it is important to remember that Ripple is a technology company with an underlying financial network, and ownership, management and oversight of the cryptocurrency XRP. Our partnership with Ripple started in late 2018 – as part of our Fintech and cryptocurrency strategy in technology innova on – when we joined the Ripple global payments community. We achieved xCurrent connec vity in record me, enabling us to instantly communicate and se le cross-border payments in real me with end-to-end visibility and tracking. The second phase of the project was par cipa on with Ripple’s fric onless xRapid service. Payments to and from emerging markets often require pre-funded local currency accounts around the world, where liquidity costs are extremely high for smaller SMEs, making interna onal business – no ma er how well inten oned – difficult to achieve. Using xRapid, firms switch from local currency into the Ripple underlying crypto asset, and at the receiving party XRP is converted to local currency for pay away to local firms, drama cally lowering capital requirements for liquidity. Building on our blockchain technology exper se, we are looking to embed trade finance instruc ons within the payload of Ripple payment instruc ons, thereby crea ng a mul -purpose immutable data element which will reduce cost, me and risk for par cipants. The clear long-term advantage of this approach is that any financial instruc on, be it related to FX, funds, deriva ves or equi es, will be transportable globally in real me across the RippleNet infrastructure in fric onless, mely, immutable format. How will Euro Exim Bank’s customers benefit from the blockchain-enabled trade pla orm? Ini ally, as our pla orm was built on latest technology and not encumbered by legacy applica ons, client benefits are harder to quan fy. And, for many customers, informa on on blockchain solu ons and how processes may be improved hold no interest un l and unless they offer cost reduc on and true service improvement possibili es. In fact, no customers have specifically asked for a blockchain-enabled solu on, or differen ated between providers able to offer such solu ons. Ul mately, customers want their service providers to perform trusted issuance of instruments at compe ve rates, in a guaranteed meframe and with immutable records and finality. As with many great technologies looking for a problem to solve, other industry sectors are looking for solid use cases to support the significant investments needed to fully implement blockchain-enabled solu ons. That said, one of the first true use cases for blockchain solu ons is in trade finance, where a large complex ecosystem of diverse players with non-standard processes and documents support an industry worth $9 trillion USD in 2018, and set to rise further year on year. 56 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

Last year, the bank created a cloud-based blockchain enabled trade finance applica on. Are there any other new expands that Euro Exim Bank has in mind for the nearest future? Yes indeed, having the technology and IT resources enables us to focus on moving other aspects of our business into a standardised pla orm, covering banking ac vity. We’ve completed our trade finance pla orm build and deployment, with next steps being implemen ng a banking capability, and crea on of a crypto-exchange. We are also examining issuance of cryptocoin for trade, helping corporates in jurisdic ons where access to fiat currency remains a key issue in s fling interna onal trade. In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges that businesses have to face in the cross-border arena nowadays? Simply the following – trust, confidence, iden ty, ability and intent for companies and individuals to se le, op mum use of cash flow, liquidity, sanc ons and domes c vs. interna onal regula ons. How does Euro Exim Bank help them in this case? We serve clients in the Far East, Middle East and Africa, and whilst we would always wish to do business where possible, due to risk, compliance and legal restraints this is not always possible.

Is it possible to achieve “the nirvana of fully borderless trade”? Fully borderless trade would be a dream for exporters and importers alike. However, the non-exhaus ve list of current barriers includes complex non-standard regulation and compliance, sanc ons, protec onism, vola le commodity markets, disrup on from Fintech companies and nonbanks, capital and liquidity constraints, legacy technologies, shortage of skilled trade specialists, confidence and trust in par cular jurisdic ons, and shi s to new trade corridors. With these challenges, and in the current climate of uncertainty – not only with Brexit and growing sanc ons, but also with the US–China trade wars – we do not see open, borderless trade in the immediate future. Let’s talk about the future. As you see it, how will the financial industry change in the next five to ten years?

We have been ably assisted by the deployment of our advanced pla orm and AI based systems to check iden ty, records, documents and records, such that we can take an informed view regarding poten al client trades in countries and with small businesses where larger ins tu ons may find the effort and cost to service is too high. You’ve previously men oned that there are currently more than 400 regional trade agreements promo ng free movement of trade over the world. In your opinion, what are the main factors that can cause problems for borderless trade becoming even more popular? FTAs are a vital part of modern trade, allowing neighbouring and diverse countries to trade effec vely under a single regulatory and legal regime, which is especially useful in like-for-like economies such as in the African con nent, where costs can be minimised and movement of goods handled at local levels. The growth of populism, protec onism, na onalism and regionalism con nues to cause major disrup ons to trade flows, firms and countries. We see more specifically designed measures such as tariff barriers, currency restric ons and import quotas, which immediately decrease sales, promote uncertainty and damage export prospects. As an example, the on-going US–China confronta on and war of rhetoric may escalate to strategic conflict, where implemen ng harsher tariffs (basically taxing all goods at the highest levels) may not only restrict access to goods, but to the provision of essenal components to manufacturing industries.

In the 1980s, bank messengers, telex, manual test keys, highlighter pens and manual paper-based processes across the back office were still commonplace. These were phased out as financial technology was applied to basic processes, reconcilia on improved with automated matching, the SWIFT network and other communica on mediums became more accepted and security improved across systems. You may s ll recall groundbreaking industry ini a ves such as STP (straight through processing), BPR (business process re-engineering), rules and excepon processing and so on. Today, we have automated and digi sed many of these func ons. But have we gone far enough? Now ar ficial intelligence (with worldwide spend forecast to reach $35.8 billion in 2019), open banking and machine learning, IDC predicts worldwide spending on cogni ve and ar ficial intelligence systems will reach $77.6 billion in 2022, more than three mes the $24 billion forecast for 2018. The future will see a rise of suprana onal banks with aggressive programmes to achieve economies of scale through acquisi on, merger, de-risking and restric ons on who, when, how and why they will do business with individuals, companies and other countries. Unfortunately, many legi mate SMEs in developing countries, and even larger companies a emp ng to survive in compe ve mes in developed economies, will naturally suffer as they become disenfranchised and restricted from access to funds, markets and cash flow. Thankfully there will also be a core of financially astute, smaller Fintech enabled firms, digi sing all trade flows, offering faster, interoperable, cheaper services, unencumbered by heavy regula on, technology or boundaries, powered by cloud-based mobile apps and light touch user experience. We stand ready to bridge the gap and provide the services needed to enable developing na ons and businesses alike to be compe ve and effec ve in world trade. europeanbusinessmagazine.com


Facilitating Global Trade

Global cross-border trade has never been more dynamic but with growing compliance costs and increasing risk, alongside an unsettled regulations landscape, several trade activities have been affected. Trade finance plays a fundamental role in the successful movement of goods and services, and a lack of access is a major barrier to SME’s ability to develop on an international scale.


ating back to the economic crisis of 2008, securing bank loans for commerce has become increasingly difficult, but since successful economic markets are reliant on SMEs, it is vital to generate environments to help them flourish. An incredible range of innova ve financial products and services are transforming the industry, and ul mately, may radically alter how we think about money and do business.

58 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

However, fraudulent financial transactions have been creating unease within risk management, and consequently it’s vital that corpora ons monitor their systems and follow steps for secure payments. A unified payment hub which standardise payments, keeps checks on all accounts and navigates complex cross border transac ons has become essen al for best prac ce as each day brings news of higher incidents of cyber threats and more sophisticated criminals.

Illegal trade ac vity is cos ng billions of pounds, and banks need to make huge investments to protect themselves and their customers. Euro Exim Bank (EEB), a trade facilitator with an interna onal reach, enables businesses to extend their footprint by tapping into lucra ve new markets and tracking opportunities. Using AI and machine learning to combat fraud, they can keep their clients safe. The prac ce of transferring money between countries is not new and

the changing market and to adhere to new and exis ng regulatory obliga ons. Certainly, cross-border payments may be under more scru ny in the wake of news that Ripple plan to use XRP and xRapid to move money via strategic partnerships. EEB uses Ripple products xCurrent and xRapid for cross-border remi ances, clearing global transactions in 0.3 seconds, addressing clients’ specific needs amid a rapidly evolving treasury landscape. Being the first bank to officially do so, EEB provides clients with one, fric onless experience to send money globally, allowing the bank and its customers to stay one step ahead. The purpose of this partnership is to u lize Ripple’s products, xCurrent and xRapid to allow clients’ to source liquidity for cross border trades and to help facilitate payments. As payments into emerging markets o en require pre-funded local currency accounts, liquidity costs are high, and xRapid lowers the capital requirements. New technology allows EEB to send payments across borders without having to store money in accounts in foreign countries.

has in itself progressed very li le in years. Trade finance is a centuries-old business with several contributors, complex licences, geographies and protocols across its network. Despite li le real change over me, new challenges including higher capacity, muldimensional logis cs and amplified risk have become more prevalent in recent years. Customer complaints are also ge ng louder, and ‘not fast enough’, ‘not cheap enough’ or ‘not efficient enough’ are common criticisms. However, blockchain technology is rapidly taking centre stage in the financial arena and banks and financial businesses all over the globe are increasingly employing new technology to address these problems. Technology innovation is a central concept in contemporary trade finance, allowing banks to adapt to

Cost efficiency, scalability, speed and security are just a few of RippleNet, Ripple’s global payment network benefits, and these kind of blockchain projects may disrupt the tradi onal banking system. If blockchain tech can provide this increased value, it could revolu onise the way payments are made and could save a lot of me and investment. According to Graham Bright, the Head of Opera ons at EEB, their processes and prac se will be faster and be more transparent thanks to Ripple’s blockchain technology, which creates an immutable ledger of all transac ons. The global payment industry is set to be valued at $2 trillion next year and the cross border payments market is expected to grow by 74% by 2026. With digital technology, nonbank en es are stepping up to the challenge of improving or solving current problems in the industry, and as key banks con nue to de-risk, EEB offers an indispensable service to SME’s in challenging jurisdic ons. Businesses need reliable, trusted and

secure services when dealing with cross border payments, where payments need to be made in real me. Providing a very specific model of business – including le ers of credit, performance bonds and bank guarantees, EEB differs from a tradi onal high street bank that’s involved in funds, payments, securi es or travellers cheques. Nation states have created incentivising agreements to encourage free movement of trade, and today more than 400 regional trade agreements are available, but parliamentary self-interest, opposing poli cal powers and an increase in regional na onalism has altered and impacted the trade landscape. The World Trade Organizaࢼon warned that a spike in trade restric ons by major na ons is threatening to hold back the global economy. Many banks and businesses around the world are struggling to keep up with the ever-growing regulatory burdens and are increasingly threatened by the changing guidelines. Worldwide, charges for breaking sanc ons are predicted to reach approximately $12 billion. However, it’s the SMEs that will be hardest hit by these intervenons due to their lack of resources to track what’s happening, to complete the necessary documentation and process the data for full compliance. Banks have tradi onally struggled to assist trade lucra vely with a business model that has worked with digi saon, but things are looking brighter. EEB, headquartered and licensed in St. Lucia, with a representa ve office in London, is a specialist in providing financial services to SMEs, offering extensive support to import and export companies. EEB facilitates global trade at a time when market retrac on, bank de-risking policies, threats of account closure and growing restric ons in global supply chains, are increasing. SMEs are going global at a faster rate than ever before and facing new challenges when entering the interna onal arena, so choose EEB to stay on top of your game. h ps://www.euroeximbank.com/ europeanbusinessmagazine.com


IoT and The Technology Evolution


echnology is inescapable and it infiltrates every aspect of our lives. From how we work, play and live, technology is everywhere, and if you choose correctly it can help future-proof your business. Leading companies are using the latest technologies to address their corporate needs to see their popularity, product and profit grow.

In today’s modern, global market, companies need to become more resourceful and more successful with their contacts and communica ons in sales, marketing and customer service. Accurate business planning, effective promotion, first contact resolu on systema c management, real time monitoring, instant customer support and long term business growth, cannot be achieved at the op mal level without innova ve IT. If your business does not invest in the correct technology, it may miss valuable opportunities to connect and interact with its customers. Businesses that are considerate to the trends and changes that 2017 will bring, will be able to use available tools and technologies for greater success, higher productivity and improved customer interaction. An understanding of current business trends such as a heightened customer-centric approach, improved technology innova ons and data driven philosophies, are pivotal to success. Corporations like Amazon that are customer-centric gain be er business results, build a posi ve brand image, achieve more construc ve word-ofmouth referrals and are more likely to thrive. Focusing on your customers requires you to do something disnc ve, quicker or be er than your compe tors, with a posi ve differentiation in terms of value, quality or productivity. Businesses should 60 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

have one goal in mind for their digital strategy this year - offering a customer-centric experience. Alࢼtude So[ware, a global provider of omnichannel solu ons to deliver great customer experiences and winner of the ‘Best Customer Experience Management’ Technology Award at the ‘CRC de Oro’ awards last year, can help you do just that. Alࢼtude uCI, (Unified Customer Interac on) will allow your company to put your customer at the core of the business, enabling large and SMEs to manage their mul -channel customer interac ons such as e-mail, phone, chat, sms or web collabora on with ease, accommoda ng and suppor ng these ever-increasing digital communica ons. Tools such as these will help businesses perform effecve data consolida on and establish and maintain solid rela onships with customers. Keeping old customers as current customers is a fundamental element of any business prac ce and to do this successfully client engagement is critical. Communication between consumers and businesses cannot simply consist of the one-way method that worked in previous years. This year, with an increased customer focus, we see this dialogue transforming into a two-way conversation. The days of talking at the customer are over. Instead, there must be a real-time, collaborative channel of communica on. There are countless ways to a ract leads, but customer reten on is a whole other story, and with 65% of business coming from your exis ng customers, Alࢼtude Strategy Center, a tool which offers complete, realtime control for outbound marketing, will help your business maintain old customers, while a rac ng new ones. Providing a clear advantage in the field, giving call centers the best chance to link the right contact with

the right agent and the right message, saves me and money. With an ever increasing number of interfaces per user reality and the growing universe of IoT devices, such as smartwatches, smart jewellery, fitness trackers and voice-controlled devices, companies have access to even more data to personalise customer experience. In 2018, innovaons in sensors, so ware and technology that encourage increased interconnection will continue to develop. How can businesses rise to the challenge of this technology evolu on, alongside the new ways that customers will use it, to maximise revenue? Automated customer service is nothing new, but things have go en much be er. Online customer service will be automated thanks to be er AI and chatbots that understand context a whole lot be er than ever before,

capturing consumers’ preferences and expecta ons. These are for fied further by technology programmes gathering customer data via feedback forms from customer exchanges with the business. Understanding your client is crucial and data management services are fast becoming the solu on, combining interac on, descrip ve data and behavioural reports to help brands understand what makes their customer tick. Keeping up with technology advancements is not just for large and interna onal enterprises, it is big business for small businesses to keep up with the pace too, allowing them to expand quickly and efficiently. Alࢼtude So[ware’s solu on for SME’s targeting growth is the Altitude Xperience Proactive. This cloud-based solution has features that include agent and supervisor

web desktop, inbound and outbound voice with call back, TCPA compliance and SSL encryp on. Small business can reach their growth potenal if its employees can effec vely interact and sell its agenda to clients. Certainly, good customer -business communica on translates to faster, more sustainable growth. Digital marke ng has moved on. Nowadays, it isn’t solely about features and func ons, email and mobile; it is about enterprise engagement with customers and poten al customers. Inves ng in a durable consumer experience strategy that develops exis ng customer value will improve business rela onships and strengthen brand loyalty in 2017 and beyond. The prevalence of the mul -device customer is on the rise, alongside increasing consumer expecta ons and an imminent sharing culture, as people reveal

their experiences on public forums. Exper se like Alࢼtude So[ware’s customer oriented methodologies will add incredible value to your business, se ng apart the leaders from the laggards. Get the technology right and the data collected will strengthen your business, allowing it to grow, retain customers and flourish through seamless customer experience. For lasting sustainability and success, modern businesses need to make provisions for mobile access with multi-channel customer contact solu ons or accept losing out to compe tors who do. In the future, evolving engagement techniques, tac cs and tech will con nue to connect to customers and responding in the right way through new personal forms of involvement represents an opportunity for brands in the here and now. europeanbusinessmagazine.com


European Business Magazine catches up with the ever-engaging

David Weatherson CEO of SunTours Caribbean – a mul award-winning Des na on Management Company (DMC) & Book Island Tours - a revolu onary solu on to booking island tours & experiences in the Caribbean. David tells us all about how SunTours Caribbean has become so successful, and his journey in heading up the company.

SunTours Caribbean (STC) is a nominee and winner of many pres gious awards, however, you won two awards from our readership this year, which is very rare: ‘Caribbean’s Leading Des na on Management Company 2019’, and ‘CEO of the Year 2019 - Caribbean Travel’. In your opinion, why has STC become so successful and what do you think are the main reasons for STC gaining such a widespread reputa on? 62 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

Good Morning Nick! First of all, let me thank you for this opportunity and also a sincere thank you to your readers who voted for SunTours Caribbean as the leading DMC in the Caribbean. We are honoured and so proud to receive such recogni on and it is a testament to the hard work and effort the teams put in across the region. I must say, the ming is perfect! We are in the final months of our financial year and with appraisals just getting underway, this is a perfect excuse for me to

be able to reward and congratulate my teams even further!! And this brings me nicely to your ques on. It is not an opinion, it is a fact, and the answer is THE TEAM! I am lucky enough to have an incredible team behind me, but also a fantas c board of directors, and a local legend as my chairman. Our reputa on really does speak for itself when you look at some of our international tour operator partners. Within the Caribbean we look a er some of the biggest names in the business: Bri sh

hotels, private villas, excursion companies, cruise companies, car hire, restaurants, sporting facilities and even other local source markets. We are on islands and are surrounded by friends, families, governments and businesses, and most importantly, have access to local inside informaon and intelligence! What is it that businesses find SunTours Caribbean do uniquely? Why is STC chosen as a des na on management company, over others?

David Weatherson Bernard Anthony Weatherhead

Airways, Virgin, Kuoni, Apple Leisure Group, West Jest Vaca ons, Jet Blue Vaca ons and dnata, to name a few. We pride ourselves on forward thinking, differen a on, being the best and always placing our customers at the heart of everything we do. Customer satisfaction and health and safety are absolutely paramount and the fact that we all live and breathe the Caribbean goes a long way. We are based in the islands that we operate in, and have built fantastic relationships with our partners and suppliers on the ground – be it

It goes back to our reputa on and the history of our companies. SunGroup Inc is the umbrella company for all that we do, and was the brainchild of our chairman, Mr Bernard Anthony Weatherhead, back in 1976. “Bernie” con nued to build his empire over the next 40 years and nurtured the most amazing rela onships along the way – rela onships we s ll have to this day. At SunGroup we are all part of that family! We have within the group his sons, nieces, nephews and staff since incep on, and we are all welcomed as if we were a part of the family. This, however, is not limited to the staff, but our industry partners also. This is what makes SunTours Caribbean unique and I know our tour operator partners would testify to this. Our partners and their clients have such a wide spectrum of needs and requirements, and in our ethos, there is no such thing as “can’t do”. We con nue to go over and beyond for our partners and their clients to ensure we maintain the reputa on of the Caribbean’s Leading Destination Management Company! Whether it be VIPs, corporate MICE events, weddings, solos, disability groups, languages, couples or families. We strive to be the best! You have a lot of experience in the travel industry: you’ve worked with the leading brands TUI UK, Virgin Holidays and Bri sh Airways. Was there any specific period that helped you most in becoming the successful CEO you are today?

Haha, thanks Nick. I guess I am getng on a bit! I have had an amazing me in the industry and have worked with some incredible people along the way. I have worked with some impossible people also, but they too helped shape me into who I am and where I am today. I have worked hard, sacrificed more than I care to menon and have grabbed the opportuni es dealt to me. My Dad was right – nothing in life worth having comes easy! It’s taken blood, sweat, fears and tears, but I have always made it my goal to laugh along the way and love what I do. If I were to hone in on a specific, it would be my me at Bri sh Airways Holidays. Working my way through the industry, Bri sh Airways was always where I wanted to get to and I was certainly not disappointed. I absolutely loved my me at BA Holidays and really feel I was able to contribute to such a pres gious business. They allowed me to put into prac ce all I had learned, and the support from my team, my peers and the senior management was incredible. I will always look back at my time with them fondly and proudly, with a li le tear in the eye. When I resigned, the support and hugs and well-wishes were truly humbling. Now that I think of it, were they happy I was leaving?!? SunTours Caribbean is part of an umbrella company, SunGroup Inc. – can you tell us what some of the other companies are, and in a nutshell, how does this help in being the Leading Des na on Management Company in the Caribbean. Absolutely!! Any opportunity to plug the other companies. Cramming them into a nutshell will be a challenge, but I’ll give it a go. To name a few within the group, and keeping it relevant, we have SunGroup Hotels: a selec on of properties across Barbados and St Lucia. We have Going Places Travel, which is the biggest Travel Agency in the Caribbean and American Airlines’ top producer within the region. We have Drive-A-Matic car rental, Island Safari, Copacabana Beach Club and SunGeneral Insurance. These europeanbusinessmagazine.com


companies allow us to work much smarter internally, and to offer customers products and packages that cannot be matched while keeping our external costs down. If you work for SunGroup, you represent the en re group, and it is encouraged to share opportuni es, cri cisms, support and assistance. The travel industry faces quite some challenges. Social media, reputa on management, various new pla orms, the sharing economy... In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges that SunTours Caribbean has to face right now? Good ques on, and a tough one at that! The travel industry moves so quickly, and you can easily be le behind if you are not constantly checking the pulse. One of the biggest problems we face in the region is actually none of the above – it is in fact the poorly named “Hurricane Season”. Of course it is true that the region suffers hurricanes, but the Caribbean is vast and is made up of more than 700 islands, reefs and cays, and spans an area of over 1 million square miles. When news headlines state, “The Caribbean Destroyed by Hurricane”, not only is this grossly untrue, but it switches off our summer business to the 64 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

whole region like a tap. It plants that seed of doubt to poten al visitors that it is unsafe and unwise to travel. The opposite is true in fact; the summer months are beautiful!! Green, lush, quiet and CHEAP! Tourism is the biggest economy in the region, and without it, it hurts us all. Of course we also need to keep an eye on politics in the US & Canada, South America and the UK & Europe. These are our main markets and currency fluctua ons and uncertain es have a huge effect on the selling price and affordability of the Caribbean. All that said, these factors are not in our control! For SunTours Caribbean and SunGroup, one of our challenges will always be our reach! How do we reach and interact with customers and poten al customers? The future is all about technology. We need to remain at the cu ng edge, but also con nue to invest huge amounts of money into technology and our staff. By inves ng in so ware, hardware and communica ons, we are able to literally put the power in the hands of our staff and our customers. Book Island Tours (BIT) – It’s a revolu onary project, aiming to give the best experience to each traveller. What else should we all know about this project?

Yes, we are extremely excited about Book Island Tours. We have put a huge amount of work into developing something that is the first of its kind in the Caribbean. We are live across the Social Media channels and the website will launch with An gua, Barbados and St Lucia in the coming weeks. Our plans are to expand into Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago and across the Caribbean region in the near future. Where Book Island Tours goes, SunTours Caribbean leads. Our aim at Book Island Tours is to deliver a simple online booking solution for travellers looking to experience the best tours, ac vi es, dining and nightlife in the islands. You simply select the area of interest, such as adventure, nature, sea, land, dining, groups, sport, etc., and find exactly what you want to do. The website allows you to research, check availability and book as far in advance of your trip as you like, or, while you are delayed at an airport or already on the island… at your convenience. The

pla orm offers online bookability and is op mised for mobile, tablet, laptop and desktop PC. We are also able to connect directly into travel agents, tour operators and wholesale operators via API and XML solu ons. With that being said, if your preference is more of a personalised touch, our Concierge Team will meet any traveller at their hotel or favourite beach bar to discuss the offerings and figure out exactly what experience would best suit them on an individual level. Every tour or experience we have chosen to include at Book Island Tours has been handpicked based on several factors, but most importantly from our personal on-island experience and from ge ng to know our clientele. We can safely say we have selected the absolute best each island has to offer. At Book Island Tours we know that sustainability in tourism is key, which is why we strive to build a sustainable future through supporting local businesses, farmto-table prac ces and educa on of visitors about the history and culture of the islands. One of the Book Island Tours’ strategies is to promote sustainability in tourism. Why is this strategy so important? What other strategies and ways of thinking are important for Book Island Tours to remain ahead of their compe tors?

Sustainability is so important and something that I am incredibly passionate about! It is the only way to preserve these wonderful islands and all they have to offer for future genera ons to experience. The Caribbean is a “postcard” des na on! For some people a life’s dream, others a once in a life me. The world is ge ng smaller all the me and we need to keep up with our compe tors, not just DMCs and tour companies, I mean our geographical compe tors – the Maldives, Seychelles, Mauri us, Sri Lanka. We need our beaches clean and pris ne, we need our waters and coral reefs vibrant, teaming with life and plastic-free. People are paying for paradise and it is the responsibility of the Caribbean, its people, businesses and governments to deliver. Another strategy is responsibility – change starts with the individual and we ALL have a responsibility for our own footprint. From switching off a light or AC unit you are not using, to crea ng “at-office” recycling and waste-management sta ons and ini a ves. Moving away from printing, and paper or plas c cups on tours, arranging beach cleans and yes, even looking into electric vehicles. We at SunTours Caribbean and Book Island Tours are leading our group and our compe tors when it comes to sustainability and responsible tourism.

What do you think SunTours Caribbean will look like in two to three years? What are the future plans for the company? Well I will probably look grey or bald! But hopefully with a nice tan. I mean honestly, the future’s in our hands and the possibilities are endless. I would love to see us as the biggest DMC in the Eastern Caribbean and I would love to see Book Island Tours on the world stage. I want to expand into new islands and con nue the growth we have seen in recent years, especially in the groups and corporate MICE areas. I can’t give too much away, but rest assured, we want to solidify our posi on as The Leading Destination Management Company in the Caribbean. We rely on the con nued support from our tour industry partners as we connue to enhance the guest experience on island. I want to take this opportunity again to thank you and your readers for their con nued support and look forward to upda ng you on all things Caribbean in issues to come. www.suntourscaribbean.com info@suntourscaribbean.com www.bookislandtours.com book@bookislandtours.com IG - @bookislandtours FB - Book Island Tours europeanbusinessmagazine.com


Business Travellers Discover the Caribbean and its ‘Bleisure’ Trips


he Caribbean is definitely one of those places that most people have on their bucket list.

Sparkling crystal waters, white sand beaches, warm sunshine, and breathtaking views – just a few of the reasons why this par cular des na on is known as an idyllic holiday loca on.

An gua, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Lucia… beyond some of the most well-known, there are more than 700 islands in the Caribbean to choose from when searching for your next getaway from Europe. But truth to be told, Europeans are not only a racted to the Caribbean basin countries for the amazing beaches and that perfect climate. They are also a racted from a business perspec ve, as the Caribbean is now a steadily growing market with tremendous business opportuni es. 66 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

Latest trends in the business travel niche show that interna onal business trips are changing, as business travellers are combining their beach vaca ons with work travel, and the Caribbean islands are becoming a very popular des na on for this purpose. There’s even a special term for such business trips now – “Bleisure” trips, which translates into “business plus leisure” and is especially popular among the millennial workers. Catherine Chaulet, President of the Global DMC Partners – the largest global network of independent destination management companies and sales advisors serving planners worldwide – highlighted the increase in popularity of the Caribbean as a business travel destination, with Costa Rica, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia and Turks and Caicos being

some of the Caribbean des na ons that made the Global DMC Partners’ 2019 Mee ng and Incen ve Des na on “Hot List” for business travel this year. It’s no secret that a $20-billion-plus tourism industry plays a huge role in the Caribbean economy, but business travellers are also drawn here by the offshore financial and banking interests, as well as the pharmaceucal and energy industries. In fact, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands and the Dominican Republic are seeing far less of a reliance on tourism for their economies now, as each island has so much to offer business visitors. Trinidad and Tobago is the fi h-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas in the world. Last year, its production increased by 32.4%, to 2.52 million cubic meters. The capital,

Port of Spain, offers many business hotels to choose from, and its Tourism Development Company created a special Trinidad and Tobago Travel App, orientated towards millennial travellers. It is designed to be used offline, avoiding roaming charges and without the need for Wi-Fi. The Cayman Islands have their own stock exchange and are a Caribbean centre for offshore banking and finances. More than 60,000 companies have registered opera ons in the Cayman Islands, whilst the Bahamas’ capital Nassau is another hub for financial services within the Caribbean, contribu ng 15% of the annual economy. Puerto Rico is known among business travellers for being the best des naon for shopping and entertainment in the en re region, and a number of interna onal banks and mul na onal

corpora ons have offices here. It is also famous for its pharmaceu cals industry, as it produces most of the prescription drugs used in the US. Businesses and companies choose Puerto Rico for various conven ons and trade shows, as it has the largest conven on centre in the Caribbean. In fact, as much as two-thirds of Puerto Rico’s annual visitors come here for business ma ers, rather than a vaca on. Among the top business des na ons there is also the Dominican Republic, which is known for its tex le industry and other manufacturing; Jamaica, which is famous for bauxite and alumina mining; and Barbados, often referred to as the entrepreneur hub of the Caribbean islands. Speaking of which, just a few months ago Barbados introduced a number of ini a ves that are about to make travelling for millennials even easier. The first, developed together with MasterCard, will allow any provider of goods and services to collect payments using smartphones. Kerrie Symmonds, Barbados’ Minister

of Tourism and International Transport, noted that since most visitors prefer to use bank cards rather than cash, these mobile wireless vendor machines will be an enormous help for business transac ons, making them possible from almost any loca on. Another strategic ini a ve is called “SM@RT Barbados”, which is about to bring together a number of global companies from diverse economic sectors, such as renewable energy, transporta on and agriculture. These companies are commi ed to leveraging their new and innova ve tech solutions to drive faster economic growth in Barbados, by attracting a minimum of $1 billion in foreign direct investment for development projects over ten years. The Caribbean is no longer just a place to have fun – it is a vibrant business des na on that also offers safety, affordability, uniqueness and authen c experiences. Perhaps it was really just a matter of time before business travellers around the world started to discover its hidden treasures. europeanbusinessmagazine.com



Historic Milestones and Highest Standards


ermuda is known for a lot of things — its tax-neutral status, amazing scenery, great climate, stable political environment, high-quality infrastructure, one of the highest pay scales in the world, great strategic loca on, to name just a few. But were you aware that it has also earned an international reputation for offering high regulatory standards and excellent service levels when it comes to avia on?

Although compe on in this industry has significantly grown, Bermuda’s Civil Avia on Authority (BCAA) works hard to ensure that the Bermuda Aircra Registry not only maintains the highest safety standards in the world, but that it stays ahead of its compe tors. 68 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

A case point of that final sentence being that the BCAA — wan ng to take a leading posi on and be ahead in the marketplace — was the first jurisdic on in the world to meet all the new requirements of the Interna onal Civil Avia on Organisa on (ICAO)’s Annex 6 eight years ago. The story of aviation in Bermuda started just after the First World War, when a visi ng US Navy ship flew its plane over this small island in the Atlan c, marking the very beginning of Bermuda’s avia on history. Fast forward to 2019, Bermuda’s aviation celebrated its 100 year anniversary in May. Thomas Dunstan, Director General of Bermuda Civil Avia on Authority,

commented on this momentous occasion, no ng that, “The aviaࢼon industry has come a long way over the last 100 years, but it is important to remember where it all began.” However, this wasn’t the only inspiring historic milestone for Bermuda this year. Later that same month Bermuda registered its 900th aircra to the current Registry — a Dassault Falcon 8X. The Registry was established in 1931 and is now the largest offshore Aircra Registry and 10th in size worldwide. It includes a mix of both private aircra and commercial aircra operated under “Ar cle ‘83 bis’ Agreement“.

noted that it is key to have appropriately qualified and experienced staff, which is why BCAA invest in their staff to ensure that they are always developig their skill set. Generally speaking, the Bermuda Civil Avia on Authority is responsible for the regula on and safety oversight of avia on in Bermuda and all aircra on the Bermuda Aircra Registry.

Dunstan also commented on this one as well, saying that, “The Bermuda Registry has earned a solid reputaࢼon internaࢼonally, and we conࢼnue to build on that year on year. We work hard to establish trusted relaࢼonships with our global partners and this is how we have been able to achieve building the current registry up to 900 aircra[.“ According to him, the most important benefits that come with registering in Bermuda are financing, a secure mortgage registry, cost savings and, of course, tax neutrality, Bermuda’s business card. BCAA keeps safety at the top of mind and con nuously assess possible risks and prepare various plans. Dunstan

Previously known as the Bermuda Department of Civil Avia on, it went through some changes three years ago: in 2016, BCAA completed a transi on from a government-run department to a semi-autonomous administra on, which also led to changing its overall perspec ve when it comes to future trajectories. The decision to transfer the authority was made in order to reduce the restric ons that apply to the public sector and to use a newly formed authority to increase produc vity. Its new customer-centric business model uses the tagline “Pu࣌ng you at the center of everything we do“, and besides emphasising its personal approach, BCAA also highlights its very own team members from various departments to give insight into different roles and personali es in a humble, friendly way. Dunstan says that at BCAA they “believe that the service we provide is

only as good as the team that provides it. Ulࢼmately, we strive to be flexible, transparent and responsive to make the process of registering an aircra[ as quick and easy as possible, while maintaining the highest standards of regulations, professional service, and courtesy.“ The new business model also allowed them to hire more staff and to implement more business-orientated systems and prac ces, which led to more streamlined processes and improved response times for the customers. The BCAA strongly believes that clients must have seamless and posi ve interac ons with them, with a mezone difference being no excuse for slow responses. Throughout 2018, the Registry saw a 9 percent growth, the majority of which came from Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Current and future target areas, besides Europe, are China, Asia Pacific and the Middle East. It is no secret that the avia on industry is growing, and in order to keep up, BCAA has also made some specific moves: Introducing an online payment capability, streamlining the invoicing system and reviewing all regulatory processes. Expecting to reach even more efficiency in the processes, the BCAA has also upgraded the Registry’s digital and electronic documenta on system. europeanbusinessmagazine.com


Investing in Paradise


lear blue waters, a warm climate and swaying palm trees have become synonymous with the picture perfect image we all have of the Caribbean. It will come as no surprise then, that it is one of the fastest growing tourist des na ons on the interna onal stage. Furthermore, the

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investment landscape in this region is also looking a rac ve for 2019 and beyond. This growing global a en on is echoed in an increase in flights to many Caribbean destinations, where the islands offer diverse opportunities for investors, ranging from tradi onal

forms of investment in tourism, logiscs and manufacturing to the more crea ve industries like music, animaon and film. The Caribbean has also maintained a healthy property market where other regions have struggled and boasts a number of interna onally renowned outsourcing firms.

Investment Report 2017, Jamaica, the largest English speaking na on in the Caribbean, was the leading recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows among the English-speaking Caribbean and small island developing states group. The Jamaican economy showed growth in 2018 and it is line for further growth in 2019. It is ranked 1st in La n America and the Caribbean on the World Bank Doing Business Report in reference to starting a business. The country climbed up 8 spots in the Global Compeࢼࢼveness Index to 86 out of 144 countries for 2015/16, and con nues to improve its incen ves for foreign investors, helping to accommodate internaonal players interested in gaining a foothold in this lucra ve hotspot. Incentives for foreign companies include payment facilities, grace periods for tax payments, duty-free imports and a simplified income tax system, amongst others.

From the thriving rainforest in Grenada to the rocky backdrop of the Blue Mountains in Jamaica, average economic growth in the Caribbean is expected to top that of La n America, hi ng 3.9% in 2018, up drastically from 2.1% the year before. And more specifically, Jamaica is the island to watch; a rac ng a record 4.3 million tourists last year and it con nues to enjoy a reputa on as one of the top-ranking global destinations for international investments. According to the World

Its location, at the gateway of the major air and sea routes into the Caribbean, is within close proximity to global markets, with over half a billion consumers living within a four hour flight compass. It also offers a talented and cost effective labour force and the latest telecoms infrastructure provides constant connectivity to the world. With particular focus on boosting the telecommunica ons, BPO, tourism, agriculture and logistics sectors, the Jamaican government is working to expand the road and highway network; aiming to become a logis cal hub between North and South America. It is also investing in projects including the Norman Manley Internaࢼonal Airport and the Garmex, Kingston and Montego Bay special economic zones. For the past two decades, Jamaica has become less agricultural and manufacturing-centric and more focused on services, as the country acknowledges the growing importance of its ci zens’ intellectual capital to help increase its interna onal competitiveness. Sectors such as logistics and tourism are particularly ripe for investment, with the Caymanas Logistics Centre looking

for eco-friendly business activity and the Amaterra Resort development seeking investors, developers and operators, alongside many other investment opportuni es. The country is also experiencing a construc on boom including the expansion of GraceKennedy’s head office in Kingston, that is expected to come to a total cost of US$25 million; business process outsourcing opera ons along Half-Way-Tree Road and various other profitable hotel and housing development projects. With a stable democracy and elec ons held every five years, the country has vast, yet s ll largely untapped, poten al. JAMPRO, the agency for the Jamaican government’s Ministry of Economic Growth, helps to guide foreign businesses, look after investment promo on ac vi es and runs a network of global offices from its main base in the capital. (h p://www.jamaicatradeandinvest.org) The government of Jamaica is open to FDI in all industries, and has made substan al structural reforms to its economy over the past six years, including passing 11 pieces of legisla on to improve the business environment and support economic growth. Focused on achieving the ideals of Vision 2030 - to establish Jamaica as ‘the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business’ - the GOJ looks to both local and FDI to strengthen the economy and has updated legisla on and processes to help facilitate such investment. With leading players such as Honda, Proctar&Gamble, Ciࢼgroup and CMS Energy Corp already established in this burgeoning business hub, make your move this year. Jamaica offers enormous poten al for inward investment, where companies can con nue to capitalise on the business-friendly environment, the special economic zone benefits and the competitive tax regime. In today’s global economy, investment opportuni es in a market such as Jamaica - one that offers room for growth, business support and a stable government -is a clever strategy to expand your por olio and will help you build a be er business. europeanbusinessmagazine.com


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The Bubble is Over, It’s Time to Go Mainstream


t’s been nearly a decade since Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency market was created.

Through that time we’ve seen everything from the crea on of an impressive 2,000 different cryptocurrencies, to the incredible rise of Bitcoin, to the ghter regula ons of the market. Although it’s been almost 10 years, the debate about whether or not to invest in cryptocurrencies is still a hot topic of 2019, and there’s a lot of noise surrounding it.

The market is filled with various stories, ranging from extreme successes

to massive failures, and even people who aren’t involved in the day-today world of cryptocurrency want to know the answers to the most popular ques ons: “What’s happening in the crypto world?”, “Are cryptocurrencies s ll worth it?” and “What’s the situa on with Bitcoin?” Focusing for now on that last one, it’s no surprise that a er so many dramatic changes people are still interested in everything related to Bitcoin and its current situation. In fact, just a month ago Google’s search interest rate for the term Bitcoin hit its highest level since December 2018.

Even those that don’t follow specific news related to Bitcoin tend to know the basic facts: that it went from being worth less than a penny in 2010 to peaking at nearly $20,000 in late 2017, followed by a free-fall crash in 2018. Referencing that crash, Evere Millman, an analyst at Gainesville Coins – an investment firm that specialises in precious metals and cryptocurrencies – noted that, “The huge crash in 2018 was a correc on a er a specula ve mania. The gains in 2017 were astronomical.” Just last month, in May, Bitcoin reached a value of $8,000, hitting europeanbusinessmagazine.com


its highest mark since last July. And although the numbers have fluctuated slightly in the me since, Bitcoin is s ll trading at its highest level in nearly a year now. To put it simply, when the market started to rise, it got more a en on, and more people got drawn in. Crypto investors and experts, including Millman, increasingly believe that Bitcoin was actually oversold last year, and is now becoming a legi mate investment for people looking to hedge the risk of currency and interest rate fluctua ons. What’s more, it is cited as a credible asset that can be used to diversify the por olio. Although many people see Bitcoin as a digital currency that is able to decrease in value unexpectedly, Mar n Weiss – CEO of Weiss Ra ngs, an independent financial ra ng agency that launched a cryptocurrency ra ng service in 2018 – says that, “a 30% drop in Bitcoin should be considered rou ne – kind of like a 10% correc on in stocks.” Which is why he thinks that Bitcoin, as well as other cryptocurrencies such as XRP, Ethereum, Cardano and EOS, should con nue to rise over the long term. Furthermore, predictions for its future seem bright. Industry analyst Oliver Isaacs stated that, “Bitcoin has the poten al to hit $25,000 by the end of 2019 or early 2020.” Reaching such heights by the end of this year would mean a rise of as much as 224% in 6 months,, however, bearing in mind the crypto market’s history, this isn’t impossible. Let’s go back to the other ques ons that we referenced earlier for a second, and what is really going on in the crypto world nowadays? It turns out that the answer to those ques ons is actually quite simple. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are going mainstream with both investors and larger ins tu ons right now. There are a few reasons behind this, as well as a few big names – think Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon’s Whole Foods, AT&T – that have finally thrown their hats into the crypto ring. 74 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

Experts note that while these companies entering the cryptocurrency market shouldn’t have a direct impact on the value of Bitcoin, they have and will con nue to play a key role in improving the industry’s image, which – it’s no secret to say – has been damaged a er last year’s rapid drop of 80%. Social media giant Facebook has revealed its plans to launch its own cryptocurrency, and set up a digital payment system in about a dozen countries by the first quarter of 2020. Internally referred to as “GlobalCoin”, Facebook’s new digital currency is expected to provide affordable and secure ways of making payments, regardless of whether users have a bank account. An online survey by polling company Pollfish revealed that 18% of adult Americans would be interested in investing in a digital token created by Facebook, and a majority of them are looking forward to using it on the Facebook Marketplace. JPMorgan Chase, the largest bank in the US, also announced its plans for a new digital coin earlier this year. The bank is partnering with Microso , hoping to expand on blockchain pla orms. And ICE, the owner of the New York stock exchange, has launched Bakkt, a futures exchange for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. And there’s more. Just a few days ago, Apple announced that it is about to unveil a new tool named “CryptoKit”, which will debut as an update in iOS 13. The company described “CryptoKit” as a “new Swi framework that makes it easier and safer than ever to perform cryptographic operaons, whether you simply need to compute a hash or are implementing a more advanced authen ca on protocol.” The coming autumn will be even more interesting, as John McAfee – who will be running for president in the US 2020 election – has announced that he is about to release his own independent

cryptocurrency as well. According to his website, the biggest aim of the “McAfee Freedom Coin” is to be absolutely isolated and independent from tradi onal currencies, assets and exchanges in an effort to reach “the Holy Grail of cryptocurrency – economic freedom.” John McAfee himself strongly believes that, “What is needed is a coin disconnected from fiat currencies and from other cryptocurrencies alike – a coin with zero cash-in value, yet accepted universally.” Interestingly, experts believe that McAfee’s presidential campaign is actually a stated a empt to promote cryptocurrencies as a means of securing personal freedom for ci zens. In any case, things in the crypto market appear to be changing for the better, and the sector is finally star ng to

Talking about a cashless future, Sweden wants to launch a digital currency to complement its na onal currency that will eventually branch off and exist as its own cryptocurrency, once stable. Travis Kling, the founder and CEO of Ikigai Asset Management, an investment firm that focuses on crypto assets, once said that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, “are a perfect hedge against irresponsibility from governments and central bankers, as well as an insurance policy against infla onary tac cs imposed by incumbents.” And he’s not the only one who thinks like that. Dan Held, the co-founder of Interchange, a company that advises businesses on how to manage their crypto assets, noted that, “It’s Bitcoin’s moment to shine when people momentarily give up on the government or the banking system” And when you think about it, these reasons right here might just be what boosts cryptocurrency in the long term and gives Bitcoin’s supporters a reason to remain op mis c.

stabilise, mainly because the vola lity that once defined the market appears to be gradually fading.

digital currencies, countries around the world see crypto as a great way to stabilise things internally.

Mary Spio, CEO and founder of the Ceek VR, an award-winning developer and distributor of virtual reality, commented on the situa on, boldly claiming that, “Cryptocurrency is nowhere near dead. It’s just scratching the p of the iceberg towards mainstream adop on. When companies offer purposeful real-life value and integra on of cryptocurrencies, we will begin to see the next wave of the resurgence of cryptocurrency. It’s all about crea ng more natural demand and less specula on and hype.”

You see, interes ng things are happening in the crypto market around the world right now, as a number of countries have actually started experimen ng with their own cryptocurrency – subject to their own regulaons and protec ons.

Let’s take a look at the crypto market from a bit different perspec ve for a second. While various companies start to make announcements about investments in

Iran, North Korea, Syria, Russia and other countries that have been struggling economically because of sanc ons – or as an outcome of a total economic collapse, like Venezuela – have found a new way out thanks to cryptocurrencies. They see decentralised cryptocurrency as a great way to bypass the economic sanc ons and boost their currencies once again, finally disengaging the financial mess.

However, there’s one more important thing to note. Although cryptocurrencies may s ll not be a standard for payments and value exchanges, the technology that underlines them and acts as a public ledger – blockchain – is quickly becoming a standard in different sectors and industries. And as the services provided by blockchain are all based on, and powered by, cryptocurrencies and tokens, they have become more mainstream. The best thing about it is that cryptocurrencies and blockchain are able to demonstrate its value in many different everyday situa ons – whether it’s banking opera ons or a simple act of buying a cup of coffee – adding legi macy and stability to the whole crypto market, and making investors see it as a credible op on that, as Held once said, “even during the worst days of the recent bear market, o en represented a be er bet than the currencies of some of the na onal governments.” europeanbusinessmagazine.com


SelectUSA Tech: Helping Startups Get a Jumpstart on Global Expansion resources that can help startups and tech companies hit the ground running. • Events: We held our first SelectUSA Tech sessions at the SelectUSA Investment Summit in June, helping about 100 global startups make connecons with poten al partners. We’ll be at Web Summit in Portugal this fall, and will con nue suppor ng companies on the road at future events.


he United States is a welcoming home to European companies across business sectors, so much so that many European companies are household words in the United States. But beyond the major companies that come to mind as major investors and employers in the United States – such as BMW, HSBC, Nestle, Sanofi, and others – there are also hundreds of companies with smaller-scale investments that are driving business growth in the United States.

SelectUSA recently launched a new initiative called SelectUSA Tech to help smaller companies – especially new-to-market and tech-focused companies – incorporate U.S. expansion into their business plans. As these companies look to grow by finding new customers, innova ng their products, and increasing their workforce, SelectUSA Tech can help them connect with venture capital, business incubators, and other partners that can help enable growth. This helps 76 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

• Funding: While we don’t have a magic po on to make venture capital appear out of nowhere, we can facilitate connec ons among companies, economic development officials, and service providers, which can help companies fast-track the growth of their network. young and pioneering companies quickly become a part of a pro-growth business environment in the United States that protects intellectual property, fosters innovation, and helps companies compete at a global scale. Of course, we recognize that tech companies and startups are inundated with me-sensi ve priori es, and the infancy of a company is tough to navigate. Where SelectUSA Tech is helpful is in its resource-building capaci es. SelectUSA Tech connects businesses to the poten al partners and mul pliers that can make it easier to grow and scale: • Incubators: Many U.S. regions offer incubator space that provides low-cost office space and business center capabilities while a company completes its site selec on process. •

Accelerators: Business accelerators across the United States provide mentorship programs and supply chain

And as daunting as it may seem to navigate a U.S. expansion during the startup stage, tapping into the U.S. business environment is well worth the investment. Extremely appealing to startup and tech companies is the U.S. system of intellectual property protection, which helps safeguard your innova ons as you grow your business. The U.S. educa on system also supports the innovation environment, with 15 of the world’s top 20 universities based here. These hubs help provide the talent and ecosystem to help companies continue to innovate as they grow. These factors are among the reason the United States con nues to top the Global Entrepreneurship Index. So, why wait? SelectUSA has teams throughout Europe who are ready to support your business – regardless of its age or sector – as you examine growth opportuni es in the United States. Visit us at selectusa.gov to get started.

Crowdfunding - From Niche to Mainstream europeanbusinessmagazine.com 77 europeanbusinessmagazine.com 43


e have all heard it - it is omni present amongst start up’s and even personal projects but where did it spring from and how does it work? European Business reports. Crowdfunding is one huge booming industry right now and is proving beyond doubt to be the best opঞon for all small businesses out there to raise cash and quickly !Crowdfunding allows startups to collect small sums of money from many individuals, being a great alternaঞve to banks and other Cnancial insঞtuঞons. Tradiঞonally known as business angels, private investors changed the game via crowdfunding for all small businesses out there. Numbers of crowdfunding platforms are scaling up in Europe, providing more opportunities for various Crms and entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas to a wider base of funders like never before. It’s not a niche anymore — quite the opposite. The success of crowdfunding comes down to the basic fact that to grow small businesses might need to borrow capital at some point. However, when it comes to loans, this is the point where the problems begin, as such businesses o[en don’t Ct the requirements of banks, which basically leads to not geমng the funding. And that’s where crowdfunding takes the stage, o@ering soluঞons for small businesses. But let us start from the beginning: crowdfunding Crst started to develop between 2006 and 2009. The ঞpping point of crowdfunding’s success was the moment of technological innovaঞons that started across Europe in di@erent industries and sectors. Along the way, these technological innovaঞons also constructed new business development frames, adding user parঞcipaঞon to the big picture — which, by the way, is the core element of most businesses today. Tradiঞonally before crowdfunding you had what were termed “Business Angels”. Essenঞally these were individuals who use their personal wealth to provide capital to start-up and early-stage businesses in return for a share of the company’s equity. What

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people didn’t like about this was that they were e@ecঞvely giving away their freedom of running their own business to investors who wanted instant proCt and were generally too hands on. That was how business raised cash if the banks weren’t prepared to loan. That was unঞl about Cve years ago, when crowdfunding was sঞll a niche. Now, being a young and quickly growing market, crowdfunding is booming in Europe. It brings together individuals who commit money to projects and companies they want to support. It also transforms the way that people behave with their money, as well as how businesses raise capital now. . It’s all about geমng the business

heading in the right direcঞon and adding value. Crowdfunding is also a fantasঞc way to boost the regional economy, and there are more than 600 crowdfunding plaorms in Europe right now. Crowdcube, Kickstarter, Seedrs, just to menঞon a few of them — are now central plaorms to many business plans. Entrepreneurs that need investment really like the idea of having an ability to pitch a business plan online and receive funding in return for either equity or rewards. Interestingly, among the most successful pitches are food and drink brands. Even brands like Brewdog and Chapel Down have arisen due to crowdfunding. Demand

for beer and wine was so intense that there are special crowdfunding sites dedicated to them now — check CrowdBrewed and Fundovino if you have some ঞme. According to Lasse Makela, CEO of the Invesdor crowdfunding plaorm, global crowdfunding reached more than 30 billion euros a few years ago. Its growth rate is more than 100 percent per year now, and it’s going to be larger than venture capital Cnancing this year and some experts even say that crowdfunding is about to become a 300-billion-dollar industry in just a few years. How did crowdfunding get so popular? Besides being incredibly versaঞle compared to tradiঞonal business

loans, it also gives individuals and small businesses an opportunity to seek funding for individual products and projects without having to deal with many eligibility requirements by banks and other larger Cnancial insঞtuঞons. That’s why it’s so popular — when a certain project or product does not feel like qualifying for the tradiঞonal funding, crowdfunding is the answer that many startups have discovered and…well, simply loved. If you’re looking for an answer to a quesঞon “why should crowdfunding be considered?”, when searching for new ways to get capital into the company, let us tell you that there is more than one core reason: people tend to choose to crowdfund because

its eLcient, fast, cheap and — most importantly — non-bureaucraঞc. It all comes down to the human factor at the end, and this is the best part: once a person becomes a shareholder of a company, he acts like an ambassador of a brand, promoঞng products or services, or even selling them. Experts say that in a way crowdfunding can be like insurance, as it divides the Cnancial risk that is involved in the project among a larger number of investors. Besides, it gives project owners a terriCc opportunity to market-test their products or services via their campaigns. In many European countries crowdfunding legislaঞon has come into e@ect just recently. What is more, the European Commission and the European Parliament have shown an acঞve interest in crowdfunding as well, releasing a few reports about the overall situaঞon. They showed that crowdfunding is developing quickly but is sঞll concentrated in a few countries — United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. The UK has the largest number of crowdfunding platforms as well — 143, which equals 28 percent of the EU’s overall crowdfunding plaorms number. Although the biggest players in the crowdfunding Celd are countries that we’ve just menঞoned above, experts note that the share of crowdfunding in the total funding of European businesses in other countries is growing fast as well. The alternaঞve Cnance industry is sঞll a young one. But that doesn’t stop crowdfunding from being extremely popular when it comes to small businesses, especially in Europe. In fact, experts say that more and more serious interest in crowdfunding in all levels of society has been noঞced. What makes crowdfunding great for all non-proCt projects and start-ups, as well as small businesses, is the fact that project owners have greater control, and Cnancial risk is divided among many people. Crowdfunding can even be called a trend, and the potenঞal of it is high — what is more, it can become a key source of Cnancing for small businesses over the long term. The days of business angels, it seems long gone. europeanbusinessmagazine.com


Netherlands and Its flourishing Startup System


nown for its open culture and a strengthening focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, the Netherlands is now home to a flourishing startup ecosystem.

Growth in the startup sector has been steady since the financial crisis of a decade ago. It cost many of the country’s skilled and educated people their jobs, but prompted them to think about crea ng their own. Since then the number and quality of startups has increased, reaching its highest point in the last two years due to the favorable economy. The country offers an a rac ve fiscal climate and a rela vely easy and fast registra on process for companies compared to other EU countries, 80 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

while its physical and digital infrastructure has been described as ‘close to perfec on’ by many of its successful entrepreneurs. “In Dutch culture, being humble is seen as something posi ve, but we o en forget just how much our li le country has achieved,” says Ellen de Visser, founder of transla on company AccessEast Transla ons. “We have a well developed infrastructure, connec ons to Germany, U.K. and Belgium by train, a major international airport Schiphol and the port of Ro erdam, making meetings with clients in person easier and expor ng products onto foreign markets faster.”

Having started out four years ago as a German-Dutch freelance translator she has transformed her business into a global company, providing transla ons for large German companies like GetYourGuide and Limango, as well as Dutch and Bri sh SMEs from a range of sectors. Like many founders, de Visser has benefited from Dutch government efforts to create a better startup scene. This includes working with the Enterprise Europe Network to help companies grow interna onally, and encouraging and promo ng new businesses via the Startup Deltaprogram, aimed at merging the Dutch startup ecosystem into one single connected hub.

posts, electric vehicles and navigaon systems is strong and a rac ng investment. Healthcare is another flourishing sector. Roeland Pater is CEO of Nori Health, a chatbot digital assistant that helps people living with chronic bowel conditions such crohn’s disease to iden fy and change lifestyle factors that nega vely impact their quality of life. “We are seeing more and more government and EU initiatives to support Dutch startups in bringing innova ons to market,” says Pater. “For example, we won a grant from the EU Horizon 2020 project that helped us to build our first prototype. Without that opportunity I don’t know if we’d have made it.” In January Nori Health carried out its first trial in partnership with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, with promising outcomes, and is preparing to go to the market publicly at the end of the year. Access to business funding is also improving, with an upward trend in the number of funding deals and opportunities for startups. Dimi Albers, CEO of Amsterdam-based digital agency Dept has certainly witnessed a strengthening of the ecosystem over the last five years.

Another bonus for Dutch startups is the ready access to a skilled, and highly workforce that is also mul lingual, thanks to the Dutch educaonal system, where it is quite usual for people to speak up to four foreign languages on a conversa onal level by the me they graduate. “This is par cularly posi ve for the interna onally focused and scalable nature of startups,” adds de Visser. The country boasts a number of flourishing sectors, among them biotech, with ins tu ons like Nijmegen University, University of Amsterdam and VU Amsterdam contribu ng to developments in this field, and electric mobility, where innova on in areas such as smart so ware for charging

He says: “Many incubators are now finding their way to the Netherlands and coworking spaces for startups have popped up everywhere. The success of many Dutch startups and scaleups in the tech sector has boosted confidence and available funding.” Brexit, he says, has also had a posi ve impact, as Amsterdam and the Netherlands are rapidly becoming natural alterna ve bases for many businesses and, therefore, investments. “Combine these elements with a healthy appe te at our major banks to support business and rela vely large pension funds that need to invest their money, and you have a very healthy environment for entrepreneurs in the Netherlands,” says Albers. There are also more early stage venture capitalists focusing on tech startups and inves ng in smaller pre-seed

rounds, and a vibrant community of private angel investors. The Netherlands is proving a rac ve to entrepreneurs from outside the country. Ou Pie lanaho, CEO and cofounder of Vimma, a challenger ad network that runs on people’s opinions, hails from Finland, which also has a strong startup ecosystem, but has chosen to base her business opera ons in Amsterdam. “Last year while star ng Vimma I relocated to London, as that is the place to be for marketers and adver sers,” she explains. “However, the poli cal situa on is star ng to impact and it seems everyone is very conserva ve right now because of Brexit. Towards the end of last year she joined a media and commerce-focused startup accelerator program in the Netherlands, something she couldn’t find in the U.K., and headed for Amsterdam. “It was the best decision for our business,” she says. “We’ve been here for three months and during that me we’ve quadrupled our customer count, onboarded mentors from Fortune500 companies, and made invaluable connec ons to partners, clients and investors.” Although s ll technically U.K.-registered, by tapping into the Dutch ecosystem Vimma has flourished. “Many global companies have their European headquarters here, and more are reloca ng here due to Brexit, which gives a company like ours fantas c access to large client base,” he says. Pietilanaho praises the country’s renowned open attitude towards doing business, the fact that everyone speaks English, and says the recepon to innova ve technology such as theirs has been warmly welcomed. “This is great for an innova ve startup trying to break the age-old norm of how adver sement is done,” he says. “There aren’t many drawbacks in the Netherlands, and it is a well balanced op on for a startup. That said, it’s no Silicon Valley either, and most likely the very ambi ous startups have to look for growth and funding from bigger markets sooner or later. europeanbusinessmagazine.com


Data centres and Digital Strategies


uropean cities are in transion, and with an ever-growing influx of sensitive data businesses are looking for alterna ves to the public cloud to secure private informa on. Consequently, the data centre market is central to the commercial success of these capitals and towns, playing a fundamental

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role in helping companies innovate, develop and grow. With the global tech industry booming, digital jobs are fast becoming the solid foundation for the world economy. Silicon Valley was once at the heart of everything tech, but investments in Europe are at

an all-time high, and the status of the tech scene on this side of the Atlantic is the greatest it has ever been. Understandably then, America’s tech giants - Facebook, Apple, Microso[, Google and Amazon - are focusing their a en on on Europe for acquisi ons and talent, and it is becoming increasingly evident that

and its start-up ecosystem is one of the best in the world. This progressive city has been home to several ‘unicorn’ companies such as Spoࢼfy, Skype and Ericsson, attracting $1.4 billion of venture capital investment since 2013, and entering into the New Year, it is s ll a technological hotspot. The Swedish capital has produced the second highest number of unicorns and the most start-ups per capita a er Silicon Valley, and the Stockholm Data Parks ini a ve highlights the city’s ground-breaking and unique appeal. Hoping that data centres can soon create a net-posi ve environmental impact, harvesting their heat for Swedish homes, this city and its data centres are real game changers. Hoping to be en rely fossil fuel free by 2040, Stockholm, and its pioneering data centres, can play a key role in posi ve, environmental change.

the Old Con nent is home to some of the world’s newest tech ci es. There is also a growing call from the major cloud and content pla orms for highly-connected data centres. So, what key ci es are mee ng this demand? With over 800,000 people, Amsterdam has historically enjoyed a celebrated reputa on as a key centre for commerce and culture. With approximately two million sf of data centre floor space an cipated to be added to Amsterdam’s hos ng portfolio, prac cally doubling the area’s

current size, the city is fast becoming the digital gateway to Europe. Its efforts have not gone unno ced and have earned the loca on numerous accolades, including a million-dollar Capital of Innovaࢼon award from the European Commission in 2016 and a place in the top 10 of the most advanced global ci es in the IESE Cities in Moࢼon Index from the University of Navarra. Stockholm - another loca on to watch - has always been at the forefront of data and technological innovation,

The Startup Ecosystem Ranking October 2017, which features 125 countries and 950 cities, laid Germany at fi h place, just behind the US, UK, Canada, and Israel. Frankfurt, nicknamed ‘Mainha an’ thanks to its striking skyscraper skyline and loca on on the River Main, is one of the world’s leading financial centres. Home to major financial ins tu ons such as the European Central Bank, the Bundesbank and the German Stock Exchange, and with more than 70,000 people employed in its financial sector, Frankfurt requires perfect connec vity and security to combat digital transformations and cyber threats. The EU’s principal financial centre is an ideal loca on to a ract fintechs, and it has fast become a centre for young, innovative and reactive businesses. Frankfurt has had its share of breakthrough successes, such as BuyVIP, which was acquired by Amazon, and Fintech 360T, Germany’s largest start-up exit, which was acquired by Deutsche Boerse in 2015 for $796m. Effec ve businesses need effec ve providers and effec ve interconnec on hubs that align with their approach, delivering the best performance for the business. europeanbusinessmagazine.com


Closer to home, London has always been dominant in the data market, but when you take into account all that capacity being occupied by the hyperscalers, Dublin will soon get its me in the data spotlight. The Irish capital is set to overtake London as the biggest European data centre market in terms of occupied capacity in 2019.

allowing its users to connect to a range of telecommunica ons carriers, Internet service providers and other consumers. The company currently operates more than 50 data centres in 11 countries, and by harnessing the power of this connec vity, businesses can exploit profitable opportuni es, crea ng value for themselves and their customers.

Digital technologies assist in the development, design and delivery of transporta on systems, infrastructure and architecture to help create the healthy, sustainable, resilient and prosperous cities mentioned above, and companies turn to the cloud to strengthen their influence in the digital age. Data centres are the 21st century’s most important infrastructure, and are the bea ng heart of both corporate and everyday living, connecting business people and communi es.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is shi ing how we live - from the emergence of smart ci es to connected cars and much of what is driving progress within the IOT’s is data, and lots of it. Connec ng over 20 billion devices this year, a number that is anticipated to be more like 70 billion by 2020, the IOT’s is ensuring IT infrastructure is capable of handling the 24/7 demand for applica ons such as video, social media, enterprise business and financial systems. Likewise, virtual reality (VR) is a concept that has skyrocketed in recent years, and according to Cisco’s report ‘The Zettabyte Era: Trends and Analysis’, VR

InterXion Holding N.V. provides carrier and cloud-neutral colocation data center services throughout Europe,

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traffic is expected to increase 20 mes over by 2021. AI, VR and the IoT’s are driving the future, influencing and changing all areas of our lives, and the tradi onal data centre is no different. The rise of pioneering data centres and the implementa on of 5G, alongside so many other developments is telling. The next few years are going to be very exci ng for business and trade. There has been a fundamental shi in how people interact with work, technology and each other, and current models run the risk of becoming obsolete. Businesses need to acknowledge this and consolidate their digital technical strategy into a unifying hub. This new hub-based approach to technology and data centres can help truly harness the power of digital and allow your business to extend its footprint, enter new markets and burst into 2019 with increased exper se and gusto. h ps://www.interxion.com/

The New Age of Social Media


owadays, if you want your brand and business to be successful, you must find a way to get into people’s hearts, and not just any way, but a subtle one: adver sing has also changed, and the old tricks that used to work are not so efficient anymore. This is the age of connections and conversa ons, and social media has overtaken all of it, including business. Can you imagine that in the USA alone, various brands are men oned 3.3 billion mes every day? People talk about everything and anything from fashion to industrial machinery, and companies realise that they can find a way to benefit from this by crea ng a conversa on around their products and services. And that’s where the term “influencer’s marke ng” comes along. As brands and businesses have started

to realise the power of influencer’s marke ng, use of the term has risen by as much as 400% in Google Trends search. When you look at it more closely, it all comes from the basics: before buying a product or a service, we need assurance that our decision is a good one. That’s what influencers do — their role is to assure us that we will buy a truly valuable, high-quality service, an amazing experience and…well, be happy a erwards. It’s all about emo ons and the ability to create the best ones for the consumers, and the most efficient stage to do that now is social media. Let’s start with the right ques ons: Why? and How? Why are brands using social media now? How are they benefi ng from this? As with most genius things, the answers here are simple as well: social media is witnessing an incredible growth at a very

high speed, and businesses should be savvy enough to take advantage of that. Not because it’s trendy to be on social media, but because the target audience is hanging around on popular social networks. No secret that branding strategies have also changed, and now most brands are trying to get connected with their audiences on as many distinct levels as possible. This guarantees the higher level of engagement as well as the feeling of belonging. It’s a whole new experience for the customer — to see what and how their brands and ambassadors are doing. This allows them to experience the feeling of being in the same bubble as their favourite brands. And that’s how two worlds collide. The only difference is that most of the me brands do that so subtly and almost invisibly that many consumers don’t understand what is really going on here. europeanbusinessmagazine.com


Facts also speak for themselves: according to an infographic that was published by Ambassador, 71% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand to others if they have a posi ve experience with it on social media. What does it mean? Basically, by giving your business a social media touch, you will reach better overall results and get a real-time performance analysis, but also will connect with your customers be er, and serve them on a higher level. This also means that social media — if used correctly — will make your online marke ng easier, and who would not want that? Social media, branding strategies and fashion are inseparable now. Brands use a variety of ways to reach their customers, and this guarantees that you don’t just reach out to one type of crowd, but rather connect to a versa le customer base. In the fashion industry, a popular commerce strategy is influencer’s marke ng, as brands now understand that to get out there and be a part of a social media can be amazingly valuable. It began with the rise of ad blockers and has been the most effec ve form of adver sing in 2017. Experts say that this type of marke ng will connue to be a focus of smart marketers in 2018 as well, and major brands — now, that they’ve seen what influencers can really bring them — will be shi ing a massive piece of their budgets from mainstream marke ng over to influencers. As there are so many influencers around the globe right now, the main keywords are quality and produc on value, and that’s what will dominate in the fashion industry when it comes to influencers during the next year, due to the consumers’ expecta ons for the higher producon value. The processes of influencers have come a long way since the beginning, and now it’s not enough to just pay someone to post certain pictures anymore. Brand ambassadors are the next aspira on. Let’s talk about social media platforms. There are many different choices when it comes to influencer’s marke ng, and choosing the right one can really help brands to reach 86 europeanbusinessmagazine.com

large and non-specific audiences. But the first step is to understand that different platforms can bring different advantages to the brands, depending on their aims. Facebook, being the largest social media site, is also the most obvious one for the influencer’s marke ng. What’s more, Facebook is also the most liked platform by influencers themselves: in 2016, more than 32% of influencers favoured Facebook compared to Instagram’s 24%. The good thing here is that through posts liking and sharing, a new level of visibility is created, and it o en goes beyond the original influencer’s audience. Another social media platform for influencer’s marke ng is Instagram.

This image-based site is living its golden age, and influencer’s marke ng industry on Instagram is now worth more than $1 billion. Interestingly, Instagram’s users tend to deliver more positive reactions to branded content than on any other social media pla orm. Numbers are truly impressive here, and more than 70% of the most popular hashtags are branded on Instagram. What is more, Instagram is officially recognised as a top social media pla orm for targeting consumers with disposable income, and especially millennials. One more choice for influencer’s marke ng through social media is Twi er, and although this pla orm somehow gets less a en on than the first two,

necessarily mean that the brand’s message will be presented properly. That’s why brands like to partner with smaller influencers, whose image reinforces specific brand values. A great example is the Forever 21 brand, which uses small and micro-influencers widely, and gets amazing results. 90% of the company’s Instagram posts feature influencers that have thousands of followers — not millions — but they each average more than 90 thousand interac ons. Basically, such strategy can ensure authen city, as this is becoming the key focus for the brands.

it can be a good op on, as more than 49% of Twi er users ac vely rely on influencers for various product or service recommendations. More than 40% of users follow brands directly there, and Twitter is officially the most cost-effec ve influencer’s marke ng op on. When it comes to fashion and influencers, the most influencer-led social campaigns happen on Instagram, and all the biggest companies are here as well: from Chloe to Ralph Lauren, from Balmain to Marc Jacobs and Moschino, you name it. From April 2016 to June 2017, more than 5000 influencer accounts were monitored by various brands. However, it looks likely that the full poten al

of influencing has not been revealed yet, as brands s ll focus on the bigger audiences, and forget to analyse the possibilities within their influencer partners. More than 70% of brands work with influencers, but 90% of them fail to feature influencers on their own account, missing the opportunity to incorporate influencers more actively on their content strategy. Brands with smaller budgets use influencers via Instagram as well and usually choose the ones that have 5000 to 25000 followers. The most important thing here — whether it’s a big or a small company — is to have a wise and clear strategy with the desirable purpose. While mega-influencers can have millions of followers, it doesn’t

Social media has become such a big part of our lives that some mes we can’t even remember how everything used to be before it. Let us ask you one ques on: Do you recall what the fashion industry looked like before all of it? Now it’s all about compe veness and the urgent need to keep up with the rest of the industry or else your company can be le behind. Social media made sure that connecons are now easier, and brands get to communicate with their customers on a personal level — globally. All the oldest and biggest fashion brands realised that too — think Burberry and Louis Vui on — and now are trying to be even more accessible to the general public via social media pla orms, which was not imaginable a few decades ago. The key point for fashion brands is that because of the massive consumerism if customers can’t buy the desired piece immediately, they just tend to forget about it. That’s how it works, and fashion companies must find ways to get closer to customers. Social media pla orms and influencer’s marke ng is an effec ve way to do this. As we’ve men oned earlier, such marke ng strategy can generate better results and reach more audience. Customers, on the other hand, get to experience what it’s like to par cipate in the private world of luxury fashion brands. And that’s where Instagram — the platform that generates the highest B2C engagement via influencer’s marketing — comes along. And the rest… well, we think you know. Just scroll through your Instagram’s feed and you’ll see what we mean. europeanbusinessmagazine.com


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