‘Hard Brexit’ and the UK tech sector, incentivising people to use mobile wallets and Google to launch primary mobile index

Posted by Jeevan Jayaprakash

In this issue, we look at the delicate Brexit situation that is causing concern for the UK’s tech sector, mobile wallets and how to increase their uptake and finally, Google’s decision to prioritise a mobile index.

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Have a great weekend,

Hi Mum! Said Dad


London a better bet for tech firms (for now) as government floats ‘Hard Brexit’

The Conservative party conference came with ostentatious rhetoric that sent the pound into freefall and brought the term ‘Hard Brexit’ into common parlance. As worries over attracting top foreign talent intensifies in light of tough talking Conservative ministers, some startups have been trying their luck in what is being touted as the new European capital for tech startups: Berlin.

However, it hasn’t been easy with startups beginning to realise just how welcoming the business and regulatory environment in London is, relatively speaking. As explained in this article by Lynsey Barber at City AM, obtaining a banking license (for fintech startups) in Berlin is bureaucratic whilst simple procedures such as registering a company, opening a bank account and finding office space have also proved to be a lot more difficult than expected. When catering to these business-critical needs is proving so difficult, prospective movers can be forgiven for thinking twice about whether the grass will really be greener on the other side.

The main issue on the agenda, however, is immigration. The palpable shift in tone from the May administration is at odds with tech leaders’ belief that anything other than free movement will be a huge blow to the future of London’s tech and digital sectors (a significant number of the UK’s top tech companies are run by foreigners). 50 of Britain’s top tech leaders have already penned an open letter calling on the government to do everything within their power to preserve access to top talent and skills from across Europe.

The uncertainty helps no one as this issue threatens to rumble on for what will most likely be years. Either Brussels or the UK government will need to cede ground if London is to remain the top tech destination in Europe.

After all, startups may just be more forgiving of Berlin’s flaws if it means they can continue to attract the best.

A Free Democratic Party truck spotted driving around London’s Silicon Roundabout only two weeks after Brexit. Image source: Charles Hawley’s Twitter

Consumers would use mobile wallets if they received something in return

When contactless payments via smartphones first hit the scene, many thought it would become the de facto standard for payments. A few years on and it turns out that taking out your smartphone of a pocket isn’t any more convenient than taking out a physical card. That is not to mention the lack of awareness on some users’ part that their smartphone has such functionality as well as the perceived difficulty associated with setting up a smartphone for contactless payments.

However, in a study conducted by Points (a provider of loyalty e-commerce and technology solutions), 94% of consumers questioned said they would use a mobile wallet more frequently if they could earn and redeem loyalty points/miles with every transaction. Some of you may have a few raised eyebrows at this point. Whilst it is true that Points probably has a vested interest in the outcome of such a study, it is difficult to argue with the data. The result corroborates previous studies by others and the sample size is also quite significant with 1500 consumers questioned. It is clear that loyalty rewards overwhelmingly trumps ‘convenience’ when it comes to getting people to pay with their smartphones.

The study also raised the issue of security which continues to be a barrier to uptake. Most people still don’t view mobile wallets as being a secure means of payment despite the number of safeguards that exist (Apple Pay and Android Pay is more secure than using a credit card). Attitudes are shifting but there is clearly still some work to be done on the education front.

More here

Apple Wallet. Image source: Fast Company

Google to launch primary mobile index 
‘within months’

Google is set to demote its desktop index to second place as it confirmed that a dedicated, primary mobile index is only months away.

Gary Illyes, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, has said that considering that mobile makes up more than 50% of searches on Google, the time has come for mobile to take over the mantle from desktop. Google has confirmed that they will obviously continue to maintain the desktop index but it will not be updated as regularly, which could become problematic for users who may potentially receive outdated information whilst searching on desktop. The most significant implication is that Google’s ranking algorithm will now be running over pure mobile content rather than extracting desktop content to feed into mobile rankings.

Such a move was inevitable. With searches on mobile being location-specific and time-sensitive (e.g. “restaurants near me” or “<insert store> opening hours”, making sure information on mobile sites is up to date is a must (the same should be true of desktop but it is telling that Google doesn’t seem to think so anymore). The recent introduction of Google Accelerated Mobile Pages was a sign that Google was shifting its attention to make the mobile experience the best it can be and this is another significant step in that direction as it signals to users that mobile is where they ought to be.

Google is prioritising mobile over desktop. Image source: Tunecore

Originally written as part of Hi Mum! Said Dad’s Weekly Digest.

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