By Michele Arnese, Global CEO at amp
Money has traditionally been a visual and physical entity and financial services brands have as a result become some of the world’s most recognisable brand imagery. But there is now a compelling case for financial brands to become recognisable audio brand entities as well.
The digital age has created a vast new range of touch points through which people interact with commercial enterprises in their daily lives. We have become accustomed to accessing retail transactions, information, healthcare, entertainment and of course financial services through many different channels.
Whereas once we would engage with a financial service brand via TV and radio ads or on the phone and in-branch, now our experience of financial services are shaped as much and probably more by ATMs, mobile apps, websites or via ecommerce experiences hosted by third-party brands.
Given the impact of COVID-19 around the globe, we will likely experience a new normal where physical transaction will need to make way for new, “contactless” forms of connection. That and the mass adoption of smart speakers with voice assistants enabling audio-search, command and transactional capabilities in households, has added to the spectrum of channels through which we interact with brands and is pivoting service technology firmly in the direction of audio.
This means that when it comes to the branded sound, the world we live in has never been noisier and audio branding is becoming a critical means of engaging people and enhancing business performance.
Sound-branding is not new. With the creation of radio more than 90 years ago, branded sounds came became a part of everyday life in the form of product jingles to encourage the listener to subconsciously recall a brand.
Over the years, iconic music in advertising and increasingly, audio logos such as those developed by Intel, Disney and McDonald’s have become a regular feature in advertising.
A recognisable and reassuring sounding brand that people can hear and associate with services and marketing helps build trust and engagement. Academic studies show that brand engagement is far stronger when audio is treated as an equal and essential aspect of the brand. Sound and music have a far more direct influence over our subconscious, decision-making mind.
Not only does sound build an emotional connection with consumers, it can also significantly shape the customer experience, building loyalty, recall and trust over time and with repetition.
With current and future generations of consumers growing up as audio-technology natives, sound will increasingly influence whether we have good, bad, memorable or forgettable experiences. In this environment, brands need a coherent Sonic Brand Identity that can unify all the touchpoints through which it reaches an individual.
This does mean creating a sonic logo. In fact, we are seeing a decline in their use as they are too inflexible to work across the array of ways in which we encounter brands.
So, what should financial service brands sound like in a world with so much competing background noise? How should they use audio to augment visual cues and engage customers more effectively when they either interact with a brand or are touched by it marketing out-reach?
Our Best Audio Brands study objectively and comprehensively evaluates audio brands based on the full spectrum of audio touchpoints available. This year, Mastercard was recognised as the world’s top-performing audio brand, leaping up the index from 72nd place in 2019 and dethroning the previous best performer – McDonald’s.
Last year, Mastercard dropped the text from its logo, switching to a minimal design featuring the iconic interlocked circles. This step signalled a profound rethink about the way in which people recognise brands. Mastercard’s holistic brand strategy now integrates audio-visual elements in a way that can adapt to our changing digital experiences.
The success of the audio element of Mastercard’s strategy lies in its complete embrace of a ‘comprehensive sound architecture’.
Its sonic identity is based around music that identifies the brand and enables core melodies to be re-worked and woven into everything from advertisements to point-of-sale transactions. The brand has actually developed a payment confirmation sound that reassures the card holder that a transaction was successful. To date, Mastercard has rolled out said sound out to over 36 million digital wallets and physical payment terminals around the globe.
Beyond that, Mastercard launched a multichannel marketing campaign each built on strands of its sonic DNA. It included for example custom owned tracks and soundscapes featured in an installation in the Priceless restaurant in New York City.
Mastercard has taken stock of today’s digital-first environment and has adopted a long-term brand strategy that is fit for the future.
However, the financial sector as a whole has a lot of work to do. For example, HSBC was ranked 65th in the Best Audio Brands index, while Visa occupies 72nd spot.
The arrival of younger financial services customers brought up with voice assistants and facing perhaps more challenging financial scenarios than previous generations and the growth of contactless technologies means the sound of money will become just as important as its colour.
SH Capital Ltd launches in Dubai to support SMEs with global banking services
Fintech provider to reconnect businesses with international banking services, digital treasury management solutions, risk management and cash investment products
A new digital treasury services management provider SH Capital Ltd (SHC), launches in Dubai today with a plan to empower small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs & MMEs) by offering world class global banking services, asset management, FX hedging solutions, investment products and services.
SH Capital is a subsidiary of parent company Stanhope Financial Group, which launched with $3.5m funding in November last year. In December, the group also announced the launch of its EU headquarters in Lithuania after obtaining its Electronic Money Institution licence.
The independent fintech firm, which has received its in-principle approval Cat 3A regulatory licensing from the DFSA, Dubai, is set to begin trading as of end of Q2’21, with a mission to help companies meet their financial goals during the Covid-19 recovery.
SHC will act as an intermediary for clients, helping them to access leading and global tier one cash investment products. The Stanhope team of leading industry experts will also advise on commercial paper, money market funds, futures, options, ETFs & FX hedging solutions. Additionally, SHC has already partnered with a number of global counterparties, exchanges and e-trading venues to provide liquidity in the equity, FX, fixed income and commodity markets for all clients.
In spite of recent market volatility due to Covid-19, SHC are also committed to providing bespoke financial strategies for companies as matched principle, designed to meet their risk tolerance and position them ahead of the curve for both short and long-term financial goals.
To do this, SHC leverages the latest RegTech and blockchain technology, which helps to significantly reduce CBR risk and service friction, whilst maintaining a fast, secure and transparent service. More specifically, AML, KYC, trade monitoring and a distributed ledger technology are just some of the technology utilised for an efficient and safe execution of service.
Speaking to Global Banking and Finance Review, Khalid Talukder, Managing Director, SH Capital Ltd, said: “For ambitious businesses within the GCC, getting multi-product access and global reach of investment instruments and solutions will be a critical priority for 2021 and beyond.
“Key to SH Capital’s offering is that we have the ability to aggregate high tier one investment solutions in a single venue, delivered digitally through our platform. This gives clients a greater choice and reach over the instruments that they can invest in, as well as our ability to help create a bespoke portfolio on a client-by-client basis through our holistic approach to client service. “
“Dubai is quickly being recognised as a global hub of fintech and innovation, being home to some of the fastest growing, most exciting firms on the planet. With postponed Dubai Expo launching in the Autumn of 2021, we are perfectly placed to support these business to maximise this global showcasing opportunity.
Many of these businesses struggle to gain access to efficient and high quality digital asset management and investment products globally to support their treasury activities. We aim to provide a fully digital service offering via our platform allowing easy access to various cash asset management products, services and investment products that they need in order to thrive in an increasingly competitive global world.
SH Capital Ltd will change all that, reconnecting these fast-growing firms mid-market corporates which are the backbone of GCC commerce with the products offered by Tier 1 financial institutions, as well as offering treasury consultancy to take them to the next level.
With over 70 years combined experience in our team of financial professionals, shared with quantitative-driven data insight, regulatory technology and blockchain, we are confident we can provide a consistent treasury management service, free from delays, security issues and unfair charging, to all firms in need of assistance during this difficult Covid period and beyond.”
Kevin von Neuschatz, Group CEO, Stanhope Financial Group added, “We’re excited to have received our operating licence and formally launch SH Capital Ltd in Dubai. Our on-the-ground team of experts will begin trading immediately, providing ambitious businesses across the region with tier one banking and payments services to enable rapid growth during an incredibly challenging time.
This is the first of many expansion plans for the Stanhope Financial Group, with similar launches in Europe and other key regions in the first part of 2021.”
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Daily Mail publisher posts 15% drop in quarterly revenue
LONDON (Reuters) – The publisher of Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper said that group revenue fell 15% in the three months to the end of December, dragged down by falls in print advertising revenues at its papers and by cancellations in its events business.
Daily Mail and General Trust said that group quarterly revenue came in at 304 million pounds ($416 million), down 15% on an underlying basis, but excluding the impact of cancelled events it was down 5%.
At its newspapers, print advertising revenues fell 38%, compared to an 8% rise in digital advertising. The group said that the impact of the pandemic meant it was difficult to provide short-term forecasts.
($1 = 0.7301 pounds)
(Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Michael Holden)
Dollar slides vs. most currencies on optimism about Biden administration
By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss and Saqib Iqbal Ahmed
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The dollar fell against most currencies on Wednesday, as risk appetite held up on optimism about a massive stimulus package under the new Joe Biden administration that will likely bolster a U.S. economic recovery.
The greenback slid against the yen as well as currencies tied to commodity prices such as the Australian, Canadian, New Zealand dollars, and the Norwegian crown. The U.S. dollar dropped to a three-year low versus its Canadian counterpart and sterling, while hitting a two-week trough against the yen.
The S&P 500 climbed to a new all-time peak, while U.S. crude futures gained as the risk rally carried on.
Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, vowing to end the “uncivil war” in a deeply divided country reeling from a battered economy and a raging coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 400,000 Americans.
The new government is expected to push through Congress a nearly $2 trillion U.S. fiscal stimulus plan.
“Once you are no longer uncertain about something and it materializes, the overall optimism grows and gives way to the global recovery narrative,” said Juan Perez, senior FX strategist and trader at Tempus Inc. in Washington.
“The election and the issues after — all of them played a dramatic role, but now it’s over. Joe Biden is president and stimulus hopes are, like some markets, at a record high,” he added.
In afternoon trading, the dollar fell 0.4% against the yen to 103.54, sliding to a two-week low earlier in the session to 103.45.
The U.S. dollar tumbled to a three-year low versus the Canadian currency at C$1.2607, after the Bank of Canada on Wednesday opted not to cut interest rates. The greenback was last down 0.7% at C$1.2642.
The Aussie dollar rallied 0.6% to US$0.7745, while the New Zealand currency also gained 0.6% to US$0.7167.
Sterling rose to a three-year high versus the dollar of $1.3720, but surrendered some of those gains to trade up just 0.1% at $1.3643.
A combination of heightened risk appetite in global markets and UK-specific optimism lifted the pound on Wednesday.
The dollar index, meanwhile, was up 0.1% at 90.483. Since the beginning of the year, the index has posted a modest 0.5% gain.
Futures positioning data still shows that investors are overwhelmingly short dollars as they figure that budget and current account deficits will weigh on the greenback.
The euro fell 0.2% against the dollar to $1.2106.
European countries are struggling to contain the contagion of the coronavirus amid worries that a new variant could lead to more stringent lockdowns and more economic pain.
Investors are also fretting about the slower pace of the rollout of vaccines relative to the United States and Britain, which may hobble economic recovery in the euro zone.
(Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Sonya Hepinstall)
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