4 marketing essentials from Google, Facebook and LinkedIn

Today marks the start of our 2014 Digital Financial Services Summit and as a content marketer it’s a personal favorite from our portfolio.

This morning kicked off with Google, LinkedIn and Facebook all talking about their latest developments and it was interesting stuff. It genuinely makes me excited to be working in this field.

There seemed to be some real change in the room from even just 12 months ago. People are really starting to ‘get it’ when it comes to smart, customer centric marketing models but a few key things really stood out.

The linear funnel is dead.

Ok, maybe that’s slightly dramatic but we can’t just move people down a linear path any more. Just like digital in its essence, we’re currently going through exponential growth in the way we service and market to customers. Connecting on a ‘flight path’ now seems more accurate than taking through a funnel.

For example, statistics demonstrate that people on average have taken themselves through 60 per cent of the overall buying cycle by the time they engage with a brand. Using a flight path approach will allow companies to connect across more or those touch points rather than assuming they can be pushed through a linear funnel. It also offers the best chance of being in mind before 60 per cent of the decision has been made.

It’s perhaps these sorts of statistics that drove Barclays Bank in the UK move 25 per cent of their service desks straight into one of the leading supermarkets, Asda.

Content is not.

Content marketing is the leading marketing tactic. It’s been around for years, probably around 150 but in 2014 the barrier is low and the ROI is high.

In Australia, Facebook users who log on everyday (85 per cent of overall users) log on 14 times. There’s a constant hunger for keeping updated and consuming knowledge.

Even on LinkedIn, well known as being a place of job opportunities – Content is currently viewed 7 times more than jobs posts on the platform.

So what’s going to make good content going forward? It’s still the same principle – helping someone and offering value. To tie in with the omni style flight path, and 50 per cent of traffic now through mobile, we’re going to see the rise of Big Rocks. In other words, those big pieces you can slice and dice 5-10 other ways. This generally starts with an eBook, but then splits into articles, videos, webinars, infographics, podcasts etc.

We’ve still got emotions

Many a marketing team is trying to get a grasp on data, targeting, segmenting and creating various different buyer personas. However, some of the most successful marketing campaigns of the year have played more on our emotive sides, a reminder to never forget the powerful impacts a heartfelt campaign can have.

The latest example is the #TDThanksyou from Canadian Bank TD. And yes, I challenge you to watch it without shedding a tear – I failed (6 times). The video with the tagline ‘Sometimes you just want to say thank you’ has had over 10 million views and doesn’t play on any of the features the bank can offer with smart analytics or intelligent services. Nope it focuses on positive awareness and brand reputation, but I tell you what – I’d bank with them!

Mobile mobile mobile

I wish I’d started a kitty for $1 every time the word mobile was mentioned. Mobile has very much become our primary screen and we need to make sure every single landing page is optimized for that.

In any customer centric model, to be with the customer from the start of the journey, there absolutely has to be a massive focus on mobile. It’s about ‘information that moves with you’ – get that wrong and you’ve lost that customer forever.

Drawing on finance as an example, search results show that ‘home loan’ as a term was very much a Monday-Friday search. It completely dropped off at the weekend. However, we’re now seeing a consistent level of search results 7 days a week – this is causing the home lending companies to move into real estate listings to be there on the day as the person is looking at a house – being a mobile tap away from seeing if the buyer will be accepted for funds as the notion pops into their head.

Google are working on a next generation mobile concept for our everyday lives with phones connecting into the internet of things. ‘Project Tango’ (and you can find more here https://www.google.com/atap/projecttango/#project) uses visual cues to map out interactions. The goal of Project Tango is’ to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion.’

Only time will tell the next big trends to make an impact, but no matter what tech occurs, it’s never been more important to start planning for being agile as a business. There are things that aren’t in the market yet, but the only way you can take advantage is to set a flexible working model now.

Last note – Did you know that if you’d have bought 100 bit coins in 2010, they’d be worth 761,000 now!?

Join the conversation @digifinance #digifinance

11 ways the University of Melbourne is blazing a trail for Campus Development

There is a lot to be excited about with the University of Melbourne’s new building known as the Melbourne School of Design.

On the surface alone, the building boasts a 6 Star Green Star Education Design rating. It’s the first building to ever be awarded all 10 innovation points under Green Star, including the recently added credits for life cycle assessment.

The 6 Star Rating represents ‘World Leadership’ in environmentally sustainable building practices. Only 12 buildings in Australia have received a 6 Star Green Star Education Design – v1 rating – the ABP building is the largest to achieve this.

I wanted to take a look under the bonnet of this impressive building, and recently caught up with Project Director Anne Thompson, who explored the key features paving the way for future global campus development:

Built Pedagogy:

  • The building provided an opportunity to express a commitment to built pedagogy, both in terms of design as well as through the construction process. The University has embraced the opportunity to engage with the students during the construction process. Project consultants John Wardle Architects have given lecture series to share the design process; Brookfield Multiplex builders have also delivered a regular construction lecture series.
  • Every fortnight we provided site tours for students and staff and a viewing platform was installed during the demolition phase for the Faculty to hold tutorials overlooking the site.
  • Three time lapse cameras positioned around the site have provided an amazing tool for lecturing, the project team and to capture this one off opportunity. This has been supplemented by actual construction drawings for students.
  • Focusing on sharing how we’re designing and building the new MSD Building has been an extremely rewarding endeavor, which means our students and staff are familiar with the building before they even move in. There is a general buzz of excitement in the Faculty hallways discussing the latest concrete pour and progress.

Campus Integration and Stakeholder relationships:

  • The team at FABP made a substantial commitment to market intelligence. Anne, the builders and even the Dean have frequently contributed to a public blog. It’s updated every few weeks and keeps people informed of progress.
  • The building program is four months ahead of schedule; quite a feat considering development took 18 months in total. The extra time is planned to be spent on specialist heritage reconstruction of the Japanese Room into a specially designed envelope, as well as commissioning and relocation of University staff. Classes start in earnest next year.
  • To match the flexible spaces in the building, the outdoor spaces have full Wi-Fi accessibility allowing tutorials to be delivered outside. This engagement with the campus is planned and driving mobility and collaboration across campus.
  • Beyond teaching, the Faculty is very active within the architecture community and the City of Melbourne; it will be a great space for exhibitions, displays and events, with spaces designed to be changed and tailored as needed.

World Leadership rating with 6 star Green Star achievements:

  • As part of the development, a few trees needed to be removed. The trees were salvaged, dried out and will be used as part of the planned Woodwork studios run by the Faculty, where students will use the timber for the new building. These memories and reuse of the old building materials are gentle reminders of the history of the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning.
  • The building has a host of other features that helped achieve the 6 star rating including; mixed mode heating and cooling, double-glazing, glare reduction, rainwater collection, water recycling, low-energy light fittings, low-water sanitary fittings, levels of natural light, fresh air, bike storage facilities and showers.
  • ‘Innovation’ points were awarded for a pre-occupancy study of the building occupants, eliminating all car parking on the project site and preserving and integrating the National Trust-listed Joseph Reed façade.

Join Anne for a site tour of the new ABP building during Campus Development 2014. For more information, or to book your spot visitwww.campusdevelopment.com.au or call 02 9229 1000.

5 questions that will make or break Australian Healthcare

I’ve been working in the Australian healthcare industry for a few years now, and in all honesty, it’s slow progress. When it comes to tackling the critical long term challenges to fix some major holes in the healthcare system, it starts from the ground up.

During Australian Healthcare Week 2014, we thought it was time to get some of the Australian healthcare leaders in a room to discuss some of the key burning questions on everyone’s lips.

Several clear areas stood out, so here they are – the five questions that everyone in healthcare should be thinking about to revolutionise our system and drive real positive change.

So who was involved?

  • Leonie Hobbs, Senior Consultant, Carramar Consulting
  • Kathy Campbell, ICT Manager, VCCC
  • Rob Clarke, WSP Independent
  • David Johnston , eHealth Consultant,
  • Claire GrooMbridge, Facility Planner, Hunter New England Local Health District
  • Sandra Roggeveen, CEO, Dzhon
  • Stanton Kroenert, Manager, Woods Bagot
  • Damien Crough, Business Development Manager, Hickory Group
  • Ian Mitchell, Principal, Conrad Gargett Riddel
  • Don Garner, Group Leader – Health, Sinclair Knight Merz
  • John Goodchap, National Manager – Health, Hansen Yuncken
  • Steve Trevenar, Head of Business & Strategy Healthcare & Scientific Research, Lend Lease
  • Debra Barbas, Clinical Services Manager, St John of God Murdoch Hospital
  • Rohan Wilson, Architectural Director, DesignInc
  • Mark Halpin, Director – Infrastructure Management, The Townsville Hospital

Where should the money be going?

  • It doesn’t grow on trees

The Australian dollar is limited; nationally we spend $130 billion dollars a year on healthcare, which is 10 per cent of GDP. With substantial cuts announced in the Budget, it’s clear the pot isn’t getting any bigger. So where should we be spending the money? And perhaps more importantly – where are we going to get it from?

One of the biggest challenges is making sure the funds go where they will have the most benefit; it’s not necessarily the specialist treatments and big exciting stuff. There are two sides to this coin. Firstly, who should get treatment and who shouldn’t; secondly, we need to stop focusing on sickness and focus on health.

The table discussion centred primarily on the last 10 per cent of people’s lives and those that lead an unhealthy lifestyle, leaving the two intrinsically linked.

We’re currently spending 90 per cent of funding on that last 10 per cent. We’re also focusing on funding facilities, with not enough action being taken to manage demand.

The simple truth is, the growth rate is unsustainable and people’s lifestyle choices are smashing acute health services.

Some major reform is needed to incentivise people to stay healthy. Our current spend needs to be shifted; all agree that it’s currently imbalanced. Chronic Disease management was also thrown into the mix as a better way to spend money, with more of a focus on long term quality life.

Whether this starts with taxes on unhealthy foods, in a similar manner to cigarettes and alcohol, or wider initiatives around the planning and development stages of community – building in the opportunity for healthy lifestyles.

  • Shifting public perception

The general consensus is that people have the wrong perception of healthcare.

We all enjoy and expect good quality healthcare in Australia, but as we know, it’s not sustainable.

Although the national reform agenda is seeing small amounts of change, it’s nowhere near where we need to be.

One of the potential solutions comes in the form of private health and private insurance. More competition in the area enables it to be available at a reasonable cost. Previously seen as a luxury for the wealthy, few have a realistic concept of the cost.

  • Getting money into the system

As announced in the Budget, the Federal Government could potentially widen the gap to accessible healthcare with confirmation that patients will be charged with a GP tax.

The Government confirmed in its Budget announcement that the much speculated and controversial general practice co-payment model will be implemented.

From July 1, 2015, visits to the doctor will cost everybody $7 with the introduction of a Medicare co-payment. The co-payment will be waived for children and those on concessions only after 10 visits a year. The co-payment will raise $3.4 billion in the first four years, while upfront payments and a tightening of eligibility for the prescription drugs on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme will raise another $1.3 billion.

It’s the continuation of a long debate around co-payment.

Another $1.6 billion will be cut from health by freezing indexation of income thresholds, which determine eligibility for the private health insurance rebate, the Medicare Levy surcharge and other Medicare services.

There are a few problems hindering injections of cash into the health system; inefficiencies from whole-of-regime litigation, excessive tests, limited working hours and supply and demand from private insurers.

The group explored one of the key areas – working hours.

Many facilities are still limited by the 8-5 pool, leaving people with no choice other than to go to hospital. Can we have 24-hour general practices, reducing the demand on hospitals in the same way many health insurers do?

If the health facility functioned on a 7-day-a-week approach with staffing and services, would we be able to provide better care and reap back costs that outweigh operational running fees?

The day public facilities expand the operating hours is the day we can stop building new operating theatres. There’s a trend for more 24/7 facilities – let’s fund the infrastructure but then use it efficiently. A private facility in Brisbane ran its MRI 24/7 – ends up being cheaper to come after-hours.

Public health is getting better with new targets, but it’s some of these efficiency-driving measures that could make the real difference…a little more on that later.

Want to know the other 4? Read the full report here: 5 questions that will make or break Australian Healthcare

5Q

Employee engagement: One simple idea… One mighty impact.

Customer Experience is a term that’s become very familiar to me recently. Pretty much all of the events I work across have a customer element to them, so I was interested to see what Customer Experience Management 2014 was going to offer up.

We’re part way through day one, and it’s pretty exciting down here. When I first got down here, I was expecting to hear a whole heap of the usual buzzwords; centricity, digital, journey and so on.

There’s always been one element of CX which stood out as a challenge, and that’s change. With the world we’re in now, it’s inevitable. As one of our speakers said earlier: ‘It’s not about what we did last year anymore, it’s not even last month – change is a daily constant’. For that reason, the spotlight is well and truly on employee engagement. After all, they are the ones driving change within any business.

Without making any sweeping statements, and probably unfair ones, there’s a lot of ‘same-same’ CX talk around the web these days. But today I was stopped in my same-same thinking tracks by a simple idea that lit up the entire room.

And it’s called A Personal Board.

So what is it? Quite simply, the notion that every single employee, upon recruitment, builds their own personal board of directors across the business. It’s an idea that comes from eBay, where every member of staff is tasked with the challenge of looking across the business – all levels and in all countries – to find a role they’d be interested in knowing about. They then pick up the phone and ask the person to be involved in their informal board. This helps with a few things:

  • Keeps employees engaged
  • Breaks down silos within the organisation
  • Drives innovation
  • Builds a network
  • Encourages communication
  • Helps drive change

So what does it take?

The smart thing that eBay has done is demonstrate the importance of the project to every single employee. People have a job to teach, but there’s no reason why you can’t start to do the same. It’s an informal process and only takes one person to drive it. Begin with your new starters and watch it spread.

I don’t know about you, but I love the thought of checking in with a few people across the business worldwide to get their thoughts or hear about their priorities.

P.S – if you haven’t been down to CEM 2014…. you should. They have mini-golf and everything.

Low cost marketing innovation – 4 essentials to success

It’s tough to be a marketer. It’s hard to allocate cash for innovation, but at the same time rapid consumer behaviour changes and increased competition make it a bit tricky to stand out.

All is not lost. We can once again get our creative juices flowing without breaking the bank (sorry…). I recently took a look at the world of Financial Services and it’s safe to say a few obstacles need to be overcome; the allure of the non-banks and a heck of a lot of expectation from the customer.

With that in mind I recently caught up with Simon Clarke, Head of Online Banking Suncorp.

Simon and the team have a clear focus: “We’re delivering our new core banking capability. It is a major strategic initiative for us and will enable a new generation of customer experience through our simpler and more agile platform.”

“At more of a group level, we are constantly looking at ways we can improve the customer experience across our key areas of banking, life and insurance. We want to ensure that customers have a consistent experience no matter what product they have and touch point they engage us from.”

The team have a smaller budget than the major banks, encouraging (sometimes forcing) Suncorp to think outside the box to build and optimise customer experience. This approach can often far outweigh consultation and reading through insight all day.

So how exactly are they doing this? Here’s Simon’s recipe to success:

Sweat the small stuff

“Post GFC, innovation has been always associated with research and development. But in more recent times, people and customers have come to realise that innovation isn’t always about the newest technology or gadget. It’s often just tapping away to remove a step or part of a process.

“We often find in banking that we build, design, rebuild and redesign technologies very quickly due to tech improvements and resilience. But we often neglect to review the process which the technology facilitates. That often leads to a slick looking application underpinned by a very long, frustrating seven-step process to do something that should only take two.

“We have a goal in which we constantly go through customer journey maps and ask: ‘Does that need to be there? Is it just because it’s always been there?’ As we optimise our websites, online banking platforms and mobile channels, we have the opportunity to challenge and improve the process. We also blend with user experience design so every word, click or tap culminates in a simple, easy to use engagement.”

What to do today: Innovate incrementally. Start with a small pain point with your product, system or process. Pull it apart and put it back together 2% at a time. Overtime, these 2% add to 20% very quickly and culminates in achieving high customer satisfaction at low cost and risk.

Mix it up

“We often find it amusing the costs that come out of delivering innovative technology or simply keeping up with customer demand. All of our banking platforms are designed and built in-house.

“This allows for very tight ‘product teams’ to form with a mix of business and IT people to take a challenge, sketch it, design it, user-test it, build it, secure it and get it out the door within a few days. We have feedback forms that are monitored and answered by product owners so every idea, complaint or comment goes straight to the person who can make a decision and execute on that idea or fix that problem.”

What to do today: Speak constantly to your team to understand roadblocks and attack them one by one to form a lean, effective team. Take the time to also listen to your customers. They should influence and be a part of your strategy and execution, not just an end user.

Look past the fancy reports

“From a design and UX perspective, again we use the same tools that a small business might to perform UI online tests, surveys and lab tests using basic video conference equipment.

“Some of these tools can cost $150 to run and the feedback and insight we get is amazing compared to a $10,000 report. We love using these ‘guerrilla tactics’. From an execution side, it allows us to try a lot of new things and if some don’t hit the mark, there isn’t a swollen budget sitting at the other end.”

What to do today: If you need insight, there’s plenty of it out there for free. Form an idea, build it out with creative and knowledgably colleagues and put it to the test. Learn fast and do it cheap. If the idea doesn’t hit the mark, gather your learnings and put it towards your next opportunity.

Persist

“Having a ‘fail fast and learn’ culture can be difficult to achieve and persist. But with the right attitude, enthusiasm and decision-making capability, we can strive to build the easiest-to-use websites and online banking platforms and see the effects through direct feedback.

“I think the biggest challenge is building the right culture and acknowledging that innovation doesn’t need to be cutting edge development. Simple touches each day accumulate to building an innovative model that customers can appreciate each time they engage us.”

What to do today: Build a safe working environment that allows your staff to thrive in generating and testing ideas. Isolate risk adversity so that it is managed but not impacting your ability to innovate and drive user experience.

Join Simon at Digital Financial Services 2014, he’ll be delivering the Case Study ‘Banking Channels at Speed through Lean Innovation’.  Visit www.digitalfinancialservices.com.au or tweet @digifinance

Happy employees, happy customers: creating the recipe to success

A well-articulated leadership vision and employee engagement lie at the heart of customer experience and brand success” according he founder of Australia’s RedBalloon and well-respected entrepreneur, Naomi Simson.

It’s an interesting concept, and one that’s gathered a lot of pace over the last 12 months. Workplaces are rapidly transforming and it’s easy to see why – results have shown that happy employees does in fact seem to equal happy customers..

To gain some insight on how this theory is working in practice, I recently caught up with Roslyn Hogan, she’s the Head of Customer Happiness at Red Balloon. Take a read of the interview below:

How are you driving a positive culture at Red Balloon, why is it a focus for you?

Simply speaking, culture is everything at RedBalloon. We pride ourselves on the fact that we have been listed as a BRW Great Place to Work five years in a row, one of only nine companies to do so. We come to work as ourselves, not our job titles. What we share is a deep belief in our purpose, which is to give people more good times. We also have a shared set of values that we live and breathe more than in any company I’ve ever worked for.

We drive that culture by acknowledging that “what gets recognised gets repeated”, both by the individual and the group who witnessed that recognition. On this basis it follows that if you recognise behaviours in line with the culture of the business, it will reinforce those behaviours and therefore drive more of the same. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What would you say is going to be the key differentiator between businesses that drive their CEM strategy to new levels and keep ahead of the competition, and those that don’t?

The key difference is results. Your CEM strategy is at large is your sales strategy – they go hand in hand.

Do you have any results to demonstrate the direct correlation between culture, customer experience and business performance?

Are you familiar with the saying “Happy wife, happy life”? Well, the same could be said for the workplace in that “Happy employees, happy customers”. We believe that if our people are happy, it leads to happy customers, happy suppliers and ultimately, a happy financial performance.  RedBalloon has often been quoted as saying “employees are the new customers” and “happy people = happy profits”. And that’s exactly how you should look at it. If you’re willing to go the extra mile for a customer who is upset, then shouldn’t that same attitude apply to your loyal employees?

The results here at RedBalloon speak for themselves. Our employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is 100%, so we have unquestionably happy people. Our Net Promoter Score has risen by 14% in a year, so we have happy customers. And as a result of both happy people and happy customers, our sales per call has increased a whopping 34% year on year (2013 to 2014), which equals happy profits for our business.

How do you ensure consistency across all touch points to provide a seamless experience?

Coaching is imperative at RedBalloon – when it drops off, so does the quality of service. The Customer happiness team are empowered to deal with a whole range of customer inquiries. They are largely self-sufficient and free to make decisions as individuals. Every customer happiness team member knows they have an individual impact on the RedBalloon brand – good or bad.

We’re active on several social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Flickr. We know that every customer is unique and we want them to be able to reach us in the way that best suits them. Every employee who interacts with customers via social media platforms, email or over the phone are trained with the same key messages. We empower our people to deliver a great customer experience that exceeds customer expectations at every opportunity – we even have discretionary budgets set aside to surprise and delight our customers.

It’s all about training our people to do their best, and then trusting them to get the job done.

What would be your one key piece of advice for anyone looking to improve the culture of their organisation?

My one key piece of advice would be to train and empower your people. If your employees know they are making a worthwhile contribution, and if they are noticed and rewarded on a regular basis, they will be happier and more willing to give their extra effort day in, day out. At RedBalloon we have an annual training budget set aside for every single employee – with knowledge and confidence comes the power to trust your own instincts and discretion. We also reward our people with points to redeem against RedBalloon experiences, and we find these rewards work just as well in other organisations seeking an out-of-the-box reward alternative to store vouchers and cash bonuses. Believe it or not, happiness is throwing your people out of a plane!

Finally, customer centricity is a phrase that’s been gathering pace across the industry – what does it mean to you?

Customer centricity for me means that our customers are always at the heart of everything we do. We want to be an integral part of our customer’s experience; we don’t want to just facilitate it. For us, this means listening to them with open ears and constantly evolving our approach based on the feedback we receive. But in a way it’s more than that – we don’t just listen; we actually act on what they say. We have no limit on our call times to ensure that we can meet customer expectations and needs every time because we understand that excellent communication is fundamental in every relationship – it’s no different when it comes to customer service.

It’s also important to ensure that we effectively communicate with our customers before, during and after the sale of an experience to ensure we’re there every step of the way. Our ‘How was it for you’ survey is sent to every customer after they complete their experience, and we constantly benchmark our customer reviews and use this feedback to better what we do.

Customer centricity means putting our customers first with their best interests at heart.

Hear more from Roslyn and a brand new line up of Customer Experience experts during the 7th annual Customer Experience Management. She’ll be delivering the presentation. ‘Case Study: Happy Employees Equal Happy Customers’.

Find out more by visiting www.customerexperiencemanagement.com.au   – be sure to check out the resource centre for more exclusive interviews, articles, past presentations and top tips.

Is bitcoin really the future of payments?

There’s no doubt that virtual currencies have grown over the last few years, digital and mobile wallets are providing platforms to take new currencies mainstream.

Bitcoin has captured the attention and imagination of the tech community at large over the past few years and its momentum shows no sign of slowing. We’re seeing more and more stories hitting the headlines of big value purchases using Bitcoin. There’s no doubt it’s a currency gathering pace and beginning to catch the interest of financial institutions and payment providers.

Ahead of his presentation at the Future of Digital Mobile Payments, I caught up with Mat Holroyd, the founder of BitPiggy, a fixed rate exchange for Bitcoin. We spoke about how Bitcoin has the potential to tap into new markets and how virtual currencies are going to be central to the payments landscape in the future.

How’s the Bitcoin landscape been evolving? Where does BitPiggy come in?

The businesses surrounding Bitcoin were in the beginning largely trading and mining focused, with a trickle of retail merchants who accept Bitcoin showing up continuously over time. As merchants and interest has grown, businesses that copy what you see in the finance and money world have started to show up. For example, Bitcoin based businesses that perform similar roles to PayPal and banks. As interest has grown further, entrepreneurs are gravitating towards copying the big businesses that have been successful in the non-Bitcoin economy, such as Amazon and eBay.

BitPiggy is a simple fixed rate exchange for Bitcoin, mimicking the kind of service you get from little corner store currency exchange (except all online). From that it has morphed into services like Bitcoin-related consulting and general IT support (like email), which can be paid with currency or Bitcoin. A new area I’m getting involved with is offering publication services for developers in countries with strict capital controls. Developers can get paid in Bitcoin as opposed to expensive alternatives. I also tried to launch a Bitcoin-backed debit card, but was pushed back by the regulators.

How do you think Bitcoin can start to break out of its niche audience, where do the opportunities lie?

One of the key markets where decentralized virtual currencies could see huge wide adoptance is among the world’s unbanked people who nevertheless own a smart phone. Statistics vary but something like 50 to 70% of the world’s population does not have a bank account, and of those billions of people, large numbers of them (e.g. in Africa) have smart phones.

In addition, there are compelling reasons for people who have traditional bank accounts to use Bitcoin.

There’s fluctuating value with Bitcoin – do you think that puts businesses off?

Sure. Bitcoin is very new, and like any new technology (or even new money for that matter);there is risk in getting involved early. That said, there are services to reduce risk for retail merchants, as an example who are interested in accepting Bitcoin as payment but don’t want to hold onto Bitcoin.

Where can the benefits really be seen for using Bitcoin over other forms of currency?

Bitcoin has several aspects that make it compelling compared to national currencies. Probably the biggest one is that Bitcoin is decentralized, meaning that anyone can use it without having to get approval first and it is not possible for anyone to prevent anyone from doing what they want with their money. There are no forms to fill out like with a traditional bank account, there are no capital controls, there no age requirements, no country restrictions, no address requirements. Basically no requirements besides a computer or smart phone.

Another benefit of Bitcoin is the low inflationary nature of the money supply, which should cause price deflation over time, like gold.

What’s the future, where’s your focus from here to get the buy in of a pretty tech savvy Australia?

There are many exciting things happening in and around the Bitcoin world. For instance, there are many virtual currencies that are taking the Bitcoin idea and running with it. There are people trying to make Bitcoin more anonymous, and there are people who have taken the decentralized nature of Bitcoin and applying it to things like messaging.

I don’t have much of a focus on Australia per se, as I think there are bigger opportunities overseas. That said, the recent decision by the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut interest rates to historic lows, causing the AUD to drop -5% compared to USD highlights the benefits of a decentralized money like Bitcoin: no one can arbitrarily decide to devalue your money.