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IS REWARDING POWERFUL ENOUGH TO BE ITS OWN CURRENCY?

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By David Handlos, co- founder of Europe’s leading mobile wallet company Stocard.

 

Reward schemes are nothing new, but the way both companies and consumers use them is. Their gain in popularity is because they offer so many layers, they can attract and keep consumers, provide valuable data insight and also help customers save money. So, will we get to a point where rewarding is so powerful it becomes its own currency? David Handlos, Founder, Stocard looks at why loyalty programmes may hold more value than you think. 

 

It’s no secret that rewarding customers benefits both them and the company. Since the 1950s retailers have used these schemes as a way to appeal to prospective customers as well as keep them coming back. Now 90% of companies have them from My Waitrose, to Costa and Nandos. They’ve even spread to smaller businesses such as cafes and in the b2b world.

In fact such is the popularity that 59% of Brits think all companies should offer a loyalty program and companies are responding. From start ups to established companies most are aware that investing in a reward scheme will yield returns.

 

Why do we need a loyalty scheme? 

The old rule is it costs 5 times more to acquire a new customer than retain one. This is a crude measurement though it will differ based on the product and future value of the consumer but in general its more cost effective to utilise existing customers to generate more income. One way to do this is through a loyalty programme. 81% of customers say that being a member encourages them to spend more so it’s a proven way to increase revenue.

David Handlos

Yet it’s not just about attracting and keeping your buyers though. Rewards can also be a great tool to change consumer behaviour. For example, most of the world has accelerated its digitalisation with financial services being one. Rather than see people return to traditional banks, fintechs can use reward schemes to encourage consumers to continue to use online solutions for services.

 

Why do customers like rewards? 

The internet has made the business world more competitive. We can all access so many more companies than we could before and as a result we are more likely to shop around for deals. Due to this consumers now often try to hold out for an offer to entice them.

Many of us try to find a company or product that we like and continue to use, but we like to be rewarded for that loyalty – 78% said they would switch to a company that offered a better reward programme.

 

Reward schemes create customer profiles 

One of the perks of reward schemes is that they generate huge amounts of useful insight on an individual’s habits. The power of data as we know is enormous on businesses – it helps provide confidence in decision making which has never been more important since the pandemic started.

Data is a great way that brands can do this. By using analytics organisations can create more personalised offers and rewards to customers. It ensures that targeted ads or offers reach the right person at the right time with exactly what they want. By sending content or notifications at the wrong time you significantly reduce the likelihood of engagement. The place to do this is by a digital ad on a phone as typically we have them with us at all time and they drive a quick action by the consumer.

But this data not only helps shape business decisions but also for helping companies create rewards that target the customers based on their individual wants and needs. For us at Stocard the data is hugely valuable and allows us to consult with our clients on what offers work best for their loyal customers. It can also help identify cross company partnerships which we see as becoming a huge part of reward schemes.

 

Technology has made it easy

For many of us reward schemes have barriers preventing us getting the maximum out of them. In  fact 69% agree that it’s too hard to join or earn rewards. The main issues are we need to have a physical card to access the loyalty scheme- we are guilty of leaving them home or misplacing them. It’s why Starbucks has one of the most successful reward schemes in the world, because it ran out of its app. It even then took it one step further by allowing people to pay in the app too, creating a more holistic experience.

That’s why the digital wallet approach is having great success with facilitating better access to rewards. Stocard is one example where users can host all their schemes in one app and use them seamlessly with their phone.

 

The new way to reward? 

Of course we all know about the likes of Boots’ Advantage points and Tesco Clubcard points but today’s consumer wants something more. 96% said companies should find new ways to reward their customers. We can see a shift in what types of rewards are being offered – those such as Vivid are offering shares to customers.

One key growth area is responsible rewarding with 61% said they would rather donate their rewards to a good cause than redeem them personally.

We will start to see a transition from personal benefits to altruistic lead ones being offered. For example, recently Sephora, the US cosmetics company, allowed members to convert their points to a donation to the National Black Justice Coalition. This move shows that companies are willing to allow consumers to have choice when it comes to loyalty schemes.

As you can see rewards continue to be a huge part of the ways in which both companies and customers use the other to their advantage. It will be interesting to see how loyalty is compensated in the future.

 

Finance

Weathering the Crypto Storm

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Crypto investors may be left reeling from losses over the last few months. But that is not to say all is lost. The good news is that a crypto bear market is unlike a traditional one, with the high volatility and wide-ranging opportunity meaning no two days, even minutes, are ever the same. Here, Kristjan Kangro, CEO and co-founder of Change, a leading Estonian investment platform, explores:

We’ve all seen the headlines. Some say that the crypto bear market could last two years and that a bitter crypto winter is here. That Bitcoin and the like will continue to slump. But that is not to say it’s time to cash in your chips. While the news reports may, by design, ignite worry or even panic, the reality is that the situation isn’t near as grave as it might appear.

For the first part, this is not the first time that crypto investors have weathered such a storm. By its decentralised nature, crypto is much more changeable than the traditional market. Assets can see huge increases or decreases in price from one day to the next.

It’s also important to note that while the current crash may have a short-term negative impact, in the long-term it could mean that the coins and crypto projects that survive rocket in value. Seen as a ‘cleansing process’ of types, this could offer a good opportunity for newbies to enter the crypto market for the first time ever at historically low prices.

With this in mind, there are several tried and tested investment strategies that can help you weather the current crypto storm and build your wealth throughout.

First up, it’s important to be patient. As with anything in life, it’s never a good idea to react out of fear and panic, but rather consider your options. Remember, this isn’t the first time cryptos have lost value, only to rebound and reach new heights. From my own personal portfolio experience, I do believe there’s a lot to be said for ‘the long-term investor always wins.’

At the same time, do your research. Look at your options, your overall portfolio and the broader financial picture to decide your best course of action. Don’t just buy because others are. Don’t short because others are either. Weigh up your options based on exactly what you have and what level of risk you can afford to take. If you don’t need the cash immediately and it feels right, sit tight and try to wait it out.

It sounds obvious too but, diversify. It’s never wise to have all your eggs in one basket, especially during a bear market. A broad selection of investments will always create a more stable portfolio and mitigate some of the risk. I, for example, always tend to mix up my portfolio with a range of established market leaders and a selection of more niche coins with interesting applications across different sectors. This has continued to serve me well and limit my exposure during any difficult period.

As seen in previous crypto winters gone by, there is also a lot to be said for investing in a downturn. Yes it might not be for the faint hearted. You might even think you’re buying at a low, only to see your assets continue to decline in value. However, it could be a risk that pays off. If your coin has a long-term potential it could be a risk which pays serious dividends.

Depending on your risk appetite, another route could be to move towards passive income opportunities such as yield products. Although the gains might be more conservative, it offers a more gradual, and less exposed way to make a profit. Better still, it involves no continuous trading effort. At Change, for example, since launching our Growth Pocket high-yield account at the end of last year, we’ve helped create 100k euros worth of passive income for our community.

Lastly, although it may be hard, it’s important to try to not buy into all the headlines and ‘expert reviews’, much of which may be designed to scaremonger and capture your attention. This is, after all, not crypto’s first crash. And just like the crypto and traditional bear markets before, it will come to an end probably sooner than you think. The likelihood too is that it will drive best practice, as consumers gravitate to those companies who are regulated and offer a certain level of protection.

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Let’s Not Talk Ourselves into a Slump!

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By Dominic Bourquin, Head of the Tax Consultancy and Corporate Finance team at Monahans

 

In the face of the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) Quarterly Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures, it is important for businesses in the UK to stay calm and not panic otherwise there is a real chance we could talk ourselves into a recession.

The ONS GDP figures are seen as a key barometer of the strength of our economy. On August 12, the ONS announced a 0.1% estimated decrease in GDP for the quarter ended June 2022.

In my opinion, this can be interpreted in a number of ways. Some might say this is a precursor to a recession later in the year, others might argue that such a small estimated fall in GDP might actually be a rounding and, of course, it is subject to revision later as more data becomes available.

Dominic Bourquin Monahans

There is a real mixed bag behind the figures.  The service sector, the largest sector of the UK economy, has shrunk by 0.4% in the quarter, mainly due to the fall in what is termed health and social work activities – this has been caused by a reduction in coronavirus led activities as the COVID-19 virus has become part of normal life and COVID testing, vaccinations and track and trace activities have reduced.

That said, this fall does hide some bright spots, such as the increase in the wholesale and retail of cars and increases in accommodation and food services partly due to Jubilee related activity.

Of course, all data comparisons are dependent on what is being compared, so, to be too gloomy about the shrinking of the service sector, because we are undertaking less coronavirus related health activity, seems to me like an overreaction – surely the economy recovering from coronavirus so there is less of that sort of activity is a good thing?

In the production sectors, there was an overall increase of 0.5% driven principally by increases in gas and electric power generation and transmission, although mining and quarrying activity was down, but not by much, so the part of the economy that actually produces tangible products has done pretty well, with any falls in sectors within the wider production figures being pretty negligible.

The construction sector performance is usually an early indicator of things to come in the economy and is notoriously cyclical so the rise of 2.3% does not yet signal that a recession is coming.

Expenditure and private spending showed small falls of 0.1% and 0.2%, but again, with these first figures being estimated and subject to revision, there is no reason to panic yet.

I am pretty sure that back in 2010 when George Osborne was Chancellor that we “were in recession” and yet when the figures were revised some months later as more data became available, there had not actually been a recession at all! 0.1% given the size of the UK economy is tiny!

Overall, I am sure the Government and all of us would have much rather seen an increase in GDP, but when the reasons for the fall are examined and we remind ourselves that these are early estimates subject to revision, there is no need to panic yet – they might be indicators of the start of a trend that leads us to a recession, but then again they might not!

The fall in the service sector was caused by a drop off in coronavirus related health activity, which you would expect as the virus recedes, so let’s not talk ourselves into a slump!

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