Digital trends round-up July 2014

Each month we bring you the FreshMinds trends round-up – a summary of innovations, new technologies and the latest digital trends to help you navigate today’s fast-paced, tech-enabled world. This month we’re looking at grocery delivery start-up Instacart, Caixabank’s wearable technology payments programme, Amazon’s first smartphone and Santander’s new partnership with Funding Circle.

Disruptor Instacart continues to expand across America

Grocery delivery start-up Instacart is continuing its expansion across America after a new round of funding saw the company raise $44m. The app-based service provides grocery delivery in as little as an hour through its network of ‘Personal Shoppers’ – local people who shop for and deliver goods to customers in their area. Tapping into the collaborative economy in this way enables Instacart to compete with and, in many cases, threaten bricks and mortar stores. Against this backdrop, it’s no wonder that a number of grocery chains in the US, including Costco and Kroger, have partnered with Instacart to help them meet rising consumer demand for instant delivery. For more information on Instacart and other disruptors shaking up the grocery industry, check out our recent blog post on the topic.

Caixabank launches largest wearable technology payments programme in Europe

Spanish financial services provider, CaixaBank, has announced a roll out of Visa wristbands that will enable customers to make contactless payments direct from their bank accounts. With plans to distribute the wristbands to 15, 000 customers and facilitate payments at over 300, 000 businesses across Spain, this will be the largest wearable technology payments programme in Europe. CaixaBank is not the only financial services provider eyeing up wearable technology. Earlier in the year, we reported that Australian bank, Westpac, was developing a Google Glass app to enable customers to view their bank balance in the corner of their eye. And just this month, Barclays launched its bPay band, a wristband that customers can top up and then use to make contactless payments, to visitors to Pride and Barclaycard British Summer Time festival, ahead of its full-scale roll-out in 2015.

Amazon enters the smartphone market with its Fire Phone

E-commerce giant Amazon has entered the smartphone market, with the launch of its Fire Phone. The phone has a unique recognition feature called Firefly that can identify everything from bar codes right through to TV shows and physical products. Once the object has been identified, users are given the option to request further information, run price comparisons or buy the product through Amazon. If Amazon is indeed able to break into the smartphone market and the technology takes off, the Fire Phone will help the online retailer strengthen its m-commerce offering and position itself favourability against competitors. But for bricks and mortar stores, the prospects are less bright. Making it easier to compare prices and order products in store is sure to increase showrooming so shops will have to find new ways to enhance their offering if they are to compete.

Santander teams up with Funding Circle

In the last 6 months peer-to-peer lending has boomed, growing by 50% between January and May 2014. But whilst this is good news for peer-to-peer lending companies like Funding CircleLending Club and Zopa, the popularity of their services is threatening traditional banking providers. Santander has taken an innovative approach to mitigating this threat – by teaming up with Funding Circle. As part of the partnership Santander will refer small businesses it turns down for loans to Funding Circle, whilst Funding Circle will promote Santander’s everyday banking services to its customers. This represents a wider trend where brands trying to tap into digital trends are working with smaller start-ups, who are already well established in this space.