Agile Innovation Update – February 2015

Each month we bring you the FreshMinds Agile Innovation Update. This month we’re looking at announcements from Google and Uber that could transform sectors, new functionality that will enable Gmail users to transfer money via email, online retailers’ attempts to meet rising expectations for delivery, the messaging app that is hoping to disrupt the grocery industry and the Post Office’s attempts to break into retail banking.

Uber and Google make dramatic announcements that could hail transformation across sectors

Both Uber and Google have made historic announcements this month. Uber has revealed a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University that will see the company conducting research into self-driving carswhilst Google is rumoured to be developing a competitor ride sharing service incorporating its own autonomous vehicles. If Uber is able to combine its driverless car technology with delivery and courier services it has tested in the past such as UberRush and UberEssentials, it could disrupt not just the automotive and transportation industries, but adjacent sectors by transforming the way we shop for and receive goods.

Gmail users to be able to transfer money by email

Google also looks set to make waves in the financial services industry with news that it is rolling out new functionality which will enable Gmail users in the UK to transfer money to one another. Transferring money will be as easy as attaching a file. The service is powered by Google Wallet, so when users receive the payment, it can either be kept in their Wallet or moved back into a bank account. Google’s announcement comes following recent news that Snapchat has partnered with Square to bring a similar peer-to-peer payments functionality to the social network.

Online retailers trial different ways of meeting consumers’ ever rising expectations

Amazon and Alibaba have announced new, albeit differing, ways, of meeting ever rising expectations for delivery. Alibaba has launched its first drone trial which will be used to deliver ginger tea to users in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing within an hour of ordering. Amazon, which has previously experimented with drones, is taking a different approach, opening its first bricks and mortar store in Indiana on the campus of Purdue University. The store will be a “customer order pickup and drop-off location” and will meet shoppers’ desires for greater convenience. This is rumoured to be the first move in Amazon’s journey to establish a physical presence in the US. The online retailer is said to be looking to purchase some of Radioshack’s stores as part of this strategy.

Messaging app Line to launch grocery delivery service in Asia

The Japanese messaging service Line has taken steps to launch a grocery sales and delivery service called ‘Cheap Sure Sure’ in south east Asia. With around 181 million active users and growing, Line is looking to launch its online grocery service in its largest market Thailand in early February and will offer some discounts on groceries and free delivery to Thai consumers. Line also has plans to roll the service out across the region. This follows hot on the heels of Line’s rival WeChat who also launched an e-commerce and food delivery service last year and is likely to be followed by South Korea’s Kakao Talk who have spoken of plans to expand into e-commerce. Messaging apps in Asia are fast on the way to becoming one-stop-shops for a range of activities including chatting, shopping, playing games and even booking taxis.

The Post Office tries to find position within the UK retail banking industry

The Post Office has recently announced ambitions to become a major player in the UK retail banking industry. Through its partnership with the Bank of Ireland, the Post Office aims to become one of the biggest financial services providers in the UK over the next five years. The organisation has brought its existing services under the “Post Office Money” brand and is due to launch a new range of products that could prove stiff competition for the bigger banks. Indeed, with 11,500 branches already present on UK high streets, an established reputation and a strong existing customer base (the Post Office has approximately 3 million banking / insurance customers), they could be in a strong position to do so. However, despite the significant attempts to bring change to the industry over the last 12 months to facilitate switching, consumer habits remain unyielding so it remains to be seen to what extent the Post Office’s challenge will be a credible threat.