by Elaine Mullen at Information Mosaic
I spent many hours of my childhood buying houses, charging rent and going to jail, while playing the game Monopoly, that is. Hasbro, the makers of Monopoly have just announced that they’re replacing the iron token with a cat token as selected in an internet poll. So, how relevant is the game of Monopoly today?
Despite the various version of the game that have been developed over the years, such as the Beatles, Marvel Comics, and Godfather editions, the Monopoly board has hardly changed at all since 1934. Did the world look very different at that time than today? America was in the middle of the Great Depression but the prohibition of alcohol had just been repealed. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was set up under President Roosevelt to regulate the stock market and prevent corporate abuses relating to the offering and sale of securities and corporate reporting. In Europe, Adolf Hitler, named Time magazine man of the year in 1938, combined the positions of Chancellor and President, and become “Führer” of Germany this would ultimately lead to the start of the devastating WWII starting in 1939. Japan and China were at loggerheads since Japan invaded Manchuria which would escalate into the 2nd Sino-Japanese war.
As a child, one of the few Community Chestcards I could fully understand was, “You have won Second prize in a beauty contest”, the Miss World competition being prime television at the time, but I always felt a bit insulted as being second best never seemed to be much good. With the rise of reality TV talent completions, X-factor, Americas got Talent, we are now bombarded by multiple TV programmes with young people chasing their dreams of a celebrity lifestyle. We still find it hard to remember who came 2nd in any of these competitions. Being a ‘celebrity’ is now regarded as a career choice, we even have celebrity bankers, think Nick Leeson. If rogue traders played monopoly surely they’d be gambling to get the Chance Card “Get out of Jail free – this card may be kept until needed, or traded/sold”, but then, as a high stakes gambler, they’d probably trade it on the open market.
Then there’s the utilities, the Electric company and the Water company. In the UK, Thatcher is famous for privatising state utilities, thus taking away their monopoly status. This has encouraged plenty of door to door selling with each electricity provider trying to get you to become their customer.
So where does Monopoly sit in today’s world compared to when it launched? Currently Germany has the strongest economy in the EU and the chancellor, Angela Merkel, that has been described as “the de facto leader of the European Union”and is currently ranked as the world’s second most powerful person by the Forbes magazine, the highest ranking ever achieved by a woman. Japan and China, the situation is certainly very serious as they continue to both claim ownership of a small archipelago of islands. Monopoly is now available on tablets and smartphones. While it may be argued that the electronic version may be less interactive than its physical, traditional counterpart, there are significant advantages (other than no longer misplacing a die or other pieces and having to substitute, say, a hand-written Post-It note for the Electricity Company deed). One distinct advantage is the automated tracking of cash and real-estate holdings; your net worth is displayed in real-time and appears directly under your car, boat, top-hat or other preferred token of your choice. No longer does one have to calculate how much cash is on hand or remember to request your £200 – in paper money from your little sister, or the banker upon passing Go. Due to the automated tracking, cheating has been virtually eliminated. The opportunity to cajole the pre-teen banker into slipping you extra cash or short-changing the eight-year-old landlord is now no longer possible. Even innocent mistakes due to human error, such as finding out at the last minute that you actually do not have three of the same properties required for building houses, has been removed. The Honour System, so prone to abuse by less scrupulous individuals, and mortal fallibility has been corrected by automation. In a very real sense, technology has been utilised to create a fairer, more accurately regulated Monopoly.
Monopoly’s original design was based on the real estate trading and wealth accumulation going on in the boardrooms of its time. The electronic version also mirrors modern trading developments available in the financial industry today. Front-, middle-, and back-office personnel now have the capability of tracking positions in real-time. There are also calendar-based workflow applications that project upcoming events – complete with assigned risk-weighted values – via dashboards. The chances to oversell a position, breach risk limits, and otherwise violate documented policies and regulations, have been reduced if not fully eliminated. The availability of additional dashboard functionality, such as “What If” analysis and “In/Out of the Money” calculations (both of which would prove very handy in Monopoly)make trading and decision much less risky.
Technology, then, can claim another victory. Not only has it introduced speed, reduced all risk associated with manual processes, and enabled transparency in the trading and settlement of securities, it has also managed to streamline MonopolyI grew up in the same house my parents still live in today. Monopoly taught me buy a site, buy a house, buy another house, buy another house, buy a hotel, the crash in house prices in many parts of the world has taught us that this isn’t always a good plan. However, we forget quickly; property speculation will start again and, before long, we’ll buy a house, buy another house…
Politically and economically, America is still recovering from the financial crash when Freddie Mac and Fanny Mae became household names across the globe. The SEC has developed rules in connection with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which has brought about the most significant changes to financial regulation in the USA since the regulation enacted following the Great Depression.
There’s no SEC on the Monopoly board but, if there were, would it allow the securitisation of asset backed mortgages for those little green houses and red hotels? Would Hasbro have changed the SEC’s role over the years to allow for the gradual re-interpretation and eventual repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, put into place after the Great Depression to limit commercial bank securities activities and affiliations between commercial banks and securities firms?
(Elaine has worked within the marketing and new business development function at Information Mosaic for the past eight years and has played a key role developing new markets including the Asia Pacific region.)
U.S. inauguration turns poet Amanda Gorman into best seller
WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The president’s poet woke up a superstar on Thursday, after a powerful reading at the U.S. inauguration catapulted 22-year-old Amanda Gorman to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list.
Hours after Gorman’s electric performance at the swearing-in of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, her two books – neither out yet – topped Amazon.com’s sales list.
“I AM ON THE FLOOR MY BOOKS ARE #1 & #2 ON AMAZON AFTER 1 DAY!” Gorman, a Los Angeles resident, wrote on Twitter.
Gorman’s debut poetry collection ‘The Hill We Climb’ won top spot in the online retail giant’s sale charts, closely followed by her upcoming ‘Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem’.
While poetry’s popularity is on the up, it remains a niche market and the overnight adulation clearly caught Gorman short.
“Thank you so much to everyone for supporting me and my words. As Yeats put it: ‘For words alone are certain good: Sing, then’.”
Gorman, the youngest poet in U.S. history to mark the transition of presidential power, offered a hopeful vision for a deeply divided country in Wednesday’s rendition.
“Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it,” Gorman said on the steps of the U.S. Capitol two weeks after a mob laid siege and following a year of global protests for racial justice.
“We will not march back to what was. We move to what shall be, a country that is bruised, but whole. Benevolent, but bold. Fierce and free.”
The performance stirred instant acclaim, with praise from across the country and political spectrum, from the Republican-backing Lincoln Project to former President Barack Obama.
“Wasn’t @TheAmandaGorman’s poem just stunning? She’s promised to run for president in 2036 and I for one can’t wait,” tweeted former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
A graduate of Harvard University, Gorman says she overcame a speech impediment in her youth and became the first U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017.
She has now joined the ranks of august inaugural poets such as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.
Her social media reach boomed, with her tens of thousands of followers ballooning into a Twitter fan base of a million-plus.
“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I,” tweeted TV host Oprah Winfrey.
Gorman’s books are both due out in September.
Third on Amazon’s best selling list was another picture book linked to politics and projecting hope: ‘Ambitious Girl’ by Vice-President Kamala Harris’ niece, Meena Harris.
(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)
Why brands harnessing the power of digital are winning in this evolving business landscape
By Justin Pike, Founder and Chairman, MYPINPAD
Delivery of intuitive, secure, personalised, and frictionless user experiences has long been table stakes in digital commerce, well before the era of COVID-19. As businesses harness the revolutionary power of digital technologies, they have pursued large-scale change to adapt to evolving consumer preferences (some more successfully than others, but that’s a blog for another day). Digital transformation is a term we hear repeatedly, and it looks different for each organisation, but essentially, it’s about utilising technology and data to digitise, automate, innovate and improve processes and the customer experience across the entire business.
As I said, this was already well underway but then came 2020 and no industry escaped the disruption of the coronavirus outbreak, which has had an indelible impact on businesses performance, operations, and revenue. Regardless of whether the impact of COVID has been very positive or very challenging, it has forced organisations globally to re-evaluate and re-orient strategies to adapt.
As lockdowns and pandemic-related restrictions continue to change daily life, this raises the question of how we can balance a dramatic shift to digital and the benefits it brings, while ensuring business continuity and innovation both during and post-COVID, and protecting everyone against fraud?
Digital is an essential survival tool, and even more so in a COVID world
No one could have predicted the dramatic digital pivot that has taken place over this year. Indeed, within weeks of the COVID outbreak cash usage in the UK dropped by around 50%. Digital solutions including delivery applications, contactless payments, mobile commerce, online and mobile banking have become essential components of a touchless customer experience in the era of social distancing. It’s no longer just about an enhanced and superior customer experience, it’s also about health, safety and survival.
In store, businesses have benefited from contactless payments enabling faster throughput and reduced need for consumers to touch payment terminals (therefore requiring greater cleaning, which degrades the hardware much faster). Mastercard reported a 40% increase in contactless payments – including tap-to-pay and mobile pay – during the first quarter of the year as the global pandemic worsened. Digital has also become an essential sales channel for many B2C brands. Where brick and mortar stores have been required to close, digital commerce enables continuity of customer relationships and revenue. This channel also provides brands with rich customer data, which can be used to enhance and personalise the customer experience and typically results in greater levels of engagement and uplifts in revenue.
Industry forecasts estimate that worldwide spending on the technologies and services enabling digital transformation will reach GBP 1.8 trillion in 2023 – a clear indication that the process represents a long-term investment and a global commitment to digital-first strategy. The key point here is that digital brings significant benefits, and regardless of COVID, is here to stay.
The challenges that rapid digital transformation brings to businesses
Regardless of whether businesses are operating in developed or less-developed economies, these times of crisis have levelled the playing field in the sense that all businesses are facing similar issues. Access to products and supplies, maintaining customer relationships, accelerating sales for some and declining sales for others, health and hygiene are just a few of the unique challenges brought about by COVID.
Many businesses in physical environments have had to swiftly implement changes to significantly reduce safety risks for staff and customers, such as contactless payments, mobile ordering and delivery options. But with these changes come a host of other benefits of digitisation, such as faster transactions, and reduced human error at the point-of-sale.
The reliance on technology, however, can also expose organisations and consumers to certain vulnerabilities. In particular, the risks of fraud and cybercrime have dramatically increased since the onset of the pandemic as scammers have taken advantage of digital technologies to target both businesses and individuals.
As a McKinsey report illustrates, new levels of sophistication in the activities of fraudsters have placed more pressure on companies that have been previously slow to go digital, bringing “into sharp relief how vulnerable companies really are”, and damaging the financial health of small and large businesses. In fact, the Bottomline 2020 Business Payments Barometer reveals that only one in 10 small businesses across the UK report recovering more than 50% of losses due to fraud.
But take these stats with a grain of salt. While it is important to be aware of the risks and challenges this new business landscape brings, it’s equally as important to have a lens firmly across your own business, industry and audience, and to identify the changes you can make internally to mitigate risk as well as improve your customer experience. Where can you make some quick wins? Do you have the right skillsets internally to achieve what you need to achieve? What technology is out there that will enable your business goals? There are tech companies like MYPINPAD that are making huge strides in software development, which will transform businesses globally.
A digital world post-COVID
Almost a year in, the line between business success and failure remains fragile. However, an ongoing transition towards greater digitisation will be the difference between survival and the alternative.
There is a wide range of initiatives businesses can implement to weather this storm. If we look at the space MYPINPAD operates within, secure digital consumer authentication is crucial to the ongoing success and security of not only financial products but also identification and verification across a range of different industry verticals. Shifting the authentication of consumers securely onto mobile devices enables businesses to completely reshape their customer experiences. By bringing together a more seamless, frictionless customer experience, accessibility, privacy, security and access to consumer data, businesses are able to drive digital transformation across day-to-day activities.
Against this backdrop, software with stronger security standards continue to play an ever more vital role in supporting society, protecting consumers and businesses from the increase in risks that rapid digitisation brings. Already, merchants can deploy PIN on Mobile technology from companies like MYPINPAD, onto their smart devices to speed up the digitisation process many are now tackling.
Essentially, opening up universal payments and authentication methods that feel familiar, for both online and face-to-face transactions, will be key to opening up a world of possibilities when it comes to redefining how businesses engage with consumers.
Brexit responsible for food supply problems in Northern Ireland, Ireland says
LONDON (Reuters) – Food supply problems in Northern Ireland are due to Brexit because there are now a certain amount of checks on goods going between Britain and Northern Ireland, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said.
British ministers have sought to play down the disruption of Brexit in recent days.
“The supermarket shelves were full before Christmas and there are some issues now in terms of supply chains and so that’s clearly a Brexit issue,” Coveney told ITV.
The Northern Irish protocol means there are “a certain amount of checks on goods coming from GB into Northern Ireland and that involves some disruption,” he said.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Tom Hogue)
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