Digital Banking: Is Your Local Bank Branch About to Become a Dinosaur?

Digital Banking

Digital Banking – Phasing our the Bring and Mortar Banks Branch

Digital Banking

Digital Banking: Is Your Local Bank Branch About to Become a Dinosaur?

In the past, we have written about digital currencies like Worldcoin and BitCoin. For most, however, the dollar is still king and traditional financial institutions remain a big part of our lives. Until the past decade or so, banking has remained relatively unchanged. Banks consisted of a quiet, almost library-like lobby. Velvet ropes would guide us to the next teller, who would sit behind a window or tall counter. But the banking industry is undergoing growing, and in many cases, shrinking pains. There are big changes taking place in this legendarily stoic business and odds are they will, if they haven’t already, affect you.

The Growth of Digital and Mobile Banking

Banks have always seemed to be just a step behind when it comes to transforming digitally. In part, this reluctance to change has been purposeful. This was to cater to an older customer base who held significant deposits and were less likely to appreciate change. It also was due to security concerns and significant investments in bricks and mortar buildings and infrastructure. In the past, banks dealt with a large amount of currency and needed secure locations to store and manage it. Today, most money already exists in the digital realm.

Since the Great Recession of 2008, bank branches and employees have dropped significantly. This was due to economic concerns, competitive reasons, and the transition of a significant number of their customers to digital banking. Millennials, today’s largest generation, prefer digital banking and is quite comfortable conducting banking tasks on mobile devices. If checks aren’t direct deposited, banking apps can easily scan and deposit funds quickly and securely.

A report by a research firm CACI and quoted in an article in The Financial Brand predicts that physical visits to bank branches will drop by 36% by 2022. It also anticipates mobile banking to rise by a whopping 121% over that same period. This increase in mobile banking will lead to a drop in “old” technology like desktops and laptops by 63% over that five year period. Younger consumers are already comfortable with digital and mobile banking. By 2022, it is expected that these 18-25-year-olds will only find it necessary to visit a bank branch twice annually. Even older customers may find their visits limited to five to seven times per year.

Digital Banking

What Will Happen to Bank Branch Locations?

The American Bankers Association says that the banking industry has lost over 67,000 jobs since 2009. That is a bit deceiving because the industry is in transition and is hiring. Instead of hiring tellers and loan officers, however, banks are hiring more IT and technically adept employees to help facilitate this major shift in their industry.

Traditional banks are looking for ways to reinvent the banking experience into a more contemporary model. The traditional “Bankers hours” will likely become a thing of the past and the sterile bank branches will give way to more convenient alternatives. In Europe, banks are already experimenting with pop-up and kiosks type banking centers in malls and retail stores. In the United States, some large retailers have worked in establishing banking offices in their locations. They still mainly operate like traditional branch locations.

Will your local bank branch become a dinosaur? Well, a report from commercial real estate firm JLL says that bank branches will be reduced by over 25% within the next ten years. That still leaves thousands of bricks and mortar locations. What will they do at these locations and how will banks improve the customer experience with fewer employees?

Digital Banking

The Transition from Financial to Technological

To keep up with their strictly digital competitors, banks are making the transformation to become as much technical organizations as financial. They are also taking the opportunity to expand their services and products into other financial areas. But with a shrinking number of employees and locations, how will they accomplish this?

The answer may lie in machine learning and artificial intelligence.

You see, banking, after all, is a data-driven business making it an almost perfect industry for machine learning and artificial intelligence. Using predictive and customer analytics, your “teller” of the future will know the best time to suggest refinancing your home, changing credit cards, and even when you should start thinking about buying a new car. They know your age and can prompt you to increase your retirement savings. They will learn your willingness to accept or desire to avoid risk and offer investment products accordingly.

Your bank can determine when you get paid and how much you make. Currently, much of this data is siloed in different locations, on different servers in various data centers or in the cloud. It is just a matter of time before this information is connected and machine learning and AI combine to create your teller of the future. Will it actually be a robot? It will more likely be in the form of a digital image on your phone or on a touchscreen in a discrete, cozy private office at a bank branch. It will recognize you, pull up your past transactions and financial history, conduct your transaction, and offer financial advice and products. Some will find it imposing and a bit frightening. Others will embrace the speed, accuracy, and convenience of this new way of banking. They will sell you on the convenience and advantage of having all your financial data with one bank so they can better help you manage an all-compassing financial plan. It will be a compelling argument.

Banking may have been just a tad slow in embracing technology in the past but it is riding a tidal wave of change right now. Bank branches may not totally disappear but they will certainly change in form and function. Considering the drudgery traditional banking has been in the past, most of us will view this as a good thing. A very good thing.

How Blogging Can Brand You and Position You

Benefits of Blogging for Business

Benefits of Blogging for Business

Benefits of Blogging for Business

Benefits of Blogging for Business

There are generally, three kinds of people.

  1. Those who blog
  2. Those who read blogs
  3. Those that wonder why people blog

If you wonder why people blog, this may give you some insight.

If you read blogs for enjoyment, to get information or for camaraderie, you are among the majority.

If you are a blogger, you likely have a mission. It may be to just share thoughts and experiences. Many blog to create an income source and others blog as part of a content market strategy and for SEO purposes.

While blogging started as a homespun way to share thoughts and opinions, it is big business today. Some estimate that there are more than 300 million blogs on the internet ranging in subject matter from the care of your new kitten to how to build a home. Bloggers range from stay at home mom’s to highly educated, professionals.

Why Do People Spend Time Blogging?

Many believe the reason people blog is to share their experiences for the common good of people in a specific portion of their life. While some bloggers are altruistic in nature and seek to inform the masses of the benefits of their experiences and knowledge, most have a more bottom-line focused motive.

Advertising revenues, page-views, click-thrus, name recognition, inbound marketing, content marketing, and reputation building are but a few. Google loves websites that contain blogs, especially when they are kept fresh and pertinent. This makes blogs valuable for search engine rankings. Blogging is also a powerful way to increase visitors, as sites with blogs get 97% more inbound links than those without. There are plenty of statistics that demonstrate the power of blogging. Blogs have been shown to shorten the sales cycle, positively impact the amount of inbound lead generation, and they build trust. They are a significant source of information as consumers move through the sales process. They hold much of their power because people read them.

Benefits of Blogging for Business

Why Do People Read Blogs?

Generally speaking, people read blogs to gain information. That information may help confirm their own opinions or it may help them complete a task. People read blogs to gain insights and recommendations. They may be facing an unfamiliar problem in life and in search of solutions. Every segment of society reads blogs. Readers may be searching for help on everything from selecting a baby’s name to finding the most exotic places to plan a vacation. Topics, content, and attitudes are unlimited when it comes to blogging.

The Overlooked Benefits of Blogging

While search engine rankings, clicks, and inbound links should be motivation enough to create and maintain a blog, there is a long-lasting impact blogs can have on a business that many pay little heed to. Blogs can position you and your company as an expert in your business segment and therefore brand your business.

Blogs will affect how people perceive you. Carefully crafted blogs can mold your business persona as you choose. Do you want to be perceived as an elite in your field? Would you prefer an image that is friendly, approachable, and one that is viewed as a trusted resource? Blogs can be humorous, down-to-earth, and sarcastic or they can be laser-focused on professionalism. They should always be honest, helpful, and fresh.

The point is, this “persona” should be a conscious decision. How do you want to be branded and positioned in the marketplace and does your blog help create that brand?

Sure, blogs will help with search engine visibility but they will have a long-lasting impact on the “personality” and voice of your business. It is up to you to determine what that voice will be.

The Bottom Line of Blogging

You’ve probably heard the phrase “content is king” in digital marketing today. In the past half-dozen years or so, content has climbed the ladder in terms of importance in search engine rankings. That, after all, is the purpose of a search engine, to help users find relevant content.

While many are focusing on H1 and H2 headlines and subheads, keywords, and keyword phrases and where and how often they appear in content, they may overlook the important role the content will play in branding and positioning their company.

There is an expression that says “It’s not so much what you say to a person that will make an impression but how you make them feel.” This is not to say that the content is not important, of course, it is. How your blog content is written, however, will impact how your readers feel about you. That will have a big effect on if they will want to do business with you. It is not enough to provide data or useful information. If they don’t feel good about you, they will just take the data you provided and use it when finding a resource they are more comfortable with.

How do you want your customers to feel about you? Make sure your blogs help mold that emotional bond and you can create an even bigger impression through your content marketing. You will better create a brand and position yourself in a way that converts more readers and visitors into customers.

How Social Media Has and Continues to Change Our World

Social Media History
Social Media History

How Social Media Has and Continues to Change Our World

Social media is such an integral part of our everyday lives today, we may not give much thought to how it developed and social media’s impact on our relationships and society in general. Grandparents use it to connect with grandchildren, employees make use of it to connect with potential employers, and couples use it to make romantic connections. We share our thoughts, pictures, videos, and far too often, our political beliefs. It brings us closer together and pulls us apart.

Where is social media today, how did it get here and what’s next?

A History of Social Media

Many understand Mark Zuckerberg’s involvement in Social Media with the introduction of Facebook of in 2004. There has been much written about Zuckerberg and even a major movie that chronicled Facebook’s development. Others will remember it’s predecessor, MySpace, which was introduced a year previously. Social media, however, has roots that precede even MySpace by eight years.

Depending on one’s specific definition of social media, the first site often credited with implementing aspects of social media was Classmates in 1995. Classmates allowed users to create their own profiles and friends lists. Others consider Six Degrees, which first debuted in 1997, as the first social media website. Its title was based on the six degrees of separation theory where we are all connected by six personal connections. While it quickly garnered millions of members, the internet was still relatively young. Six Degrees was ahead of its time and it would take a few more years before the internet’s infrastructure would catch up with the unbridled growth of social media.

Ryze, the precursor to LinkedIn was launched in 2001 with a focus on connecting members for career and business purposes. LinkedIn made its debut a year later in 2002. That was also the year Friendster came online.

The social media website hi5 began in 2003 and quickly grew to involve millions of users, mainly in Latin America and countries like Romania and Tunisia. The site still boasts over 100 million members.

Not all social media sites have been successes. One example is Orkut, which briefly made an appearance in early 2004. Orkut was launched by Google as an invitation-only site and never caught on. Yahoo!360 followed a similar path and suffered a similar fate. Yahoo!360 was also an invitation-only social media site. It launched in 2005 and was shut down in 2009.

Twitter and Instagram began to become widely accepted in 2010 and Google got it right in 2011 when it launched Google+. Today, social media platforms include YouTube, Reddit, VK, Tumblr, Pinterest Flickr, meetup, and a plethora of others.

Social Media History

The Current State of Social Media

Today, Facebook still rules the roost when it comes to social media. Mark Zuckerberg posted recently that the platform now has over 2 billion members. YouTube is second in monthly users with 1.5 billion. Twitter’s unique monthly users have reached 400 million, and Instagram is approaching 300 million. LinkedIn rounds out the top five with 250 million.

If there is power in numbers, social media is a force to be reckoned with. This was evidenced by the 2016 presidential election in the United States. There are still questions on if, and how, the election was influenced by Russian social media users, advertising, and websites. The U.S. President has grabbed the attention of the world with his almost daily tweets on Twitter. Everybody from members of Congress to late night television hosts have made their thoughts known on various platforms.

Careers are being made and others destroyed on social media. Live streaming has shown us crimes and even murders in progress. It has also provided an outlet for people to show abuses of law enforcement officers. Millions of dollars have been raised for good causes with the help of social media.

It has gotten to the point that much of the news of the day is filled not with what is going on in the world but what is going on in social media.

In the meantime, massive amounts of data is being collected from users who voluntarily make their data available via their favorite social media sites. This gathering of “Big Data” is what may ultimately, shape the future of social media.

Social Media History

Where is Social Media Headed?

There are generally three schools of thought when it comes to the future of social media. The first is that social media will continue to go on unbridled and to be self-governed by the companies who control it. When one considers the ramifications of this, it is hard ti imagine social media will continue to go along this path.

The second path is that social media will continue to grow but under more strict regulations, especially when it comes to matters of national security. One should keep in mind that in the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is already charged with keeping on eye on large segments of the media. There are regulations in place to monitor political advertising and being upfront with who is paying for the advertising. Many believe there will also be more steps taken to protect the personal information of social media users.

There is a third school of thought that users will recognize how much information and data they are voluntarily providing. They will tire of the constant bickering, shaming, and political posturing that is rampant today. Some feel large segments of social media users will seek alternatives. These alternatives may be more secure, less confrontational, and offer more privacy. They may or may not be in development now.

In recent years, there has been talk of social media “breaking the internet”. We may be getting to the point where the internet may just break social media. There are certainly some aspects of social media that are in need of attention.

Freedom of Speech, Hate and the Internet. Just What is Legal in the U.S.?

Freedom of Speech in America

Freedom of Speech in America

Freedom of Speech in America

Freedom of Speech in America – Just what is legal?

Much has been written and discussed recently about freedom of speech in the United States. For those who missed a few days in the fifth grade and for others who may be distracted by misinformation on social media, here is a primer on freedom of speech, how it relates to “hate speech”, the internet, and what is and isn’t criminally punishable in the United States.

The Constitution and The Bill of Rights

The original U.S. Constitution was written to outline the powers of the United States government following the revolutionary war. Keep in mind, this document was written in a time when a young United States was emerging from a war against the tyranny from a foreign government. There were those that had concerns that while the Constitution provided an outline for the government, it had no protections for the rights of its citizens. Before the Constitution was ratified, therefore, there were twelve amendments to the Constitution proposed to go along with it. Ten of those twelve received the necessary three-quarters approval of Congress and were passed as the “Bill of Rights”.

Many people think that freedom of speech is its own amendment. In reality, it is part of the first amendment that also protects freedom of religion, the right of assembly, freedom of the press, and the right to petition the government during a grievance. Freedom of speech is, of course, a key point in protecting these other freedoms.

The first amendment specifically states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Bill of Rights only defines one crime, the crime of treason in Article 3. It doesn’t define hate speech as a crime.

First Amendment Court Cases

Throughout the years, the Supreme Court has ruled on many cases involving the first amendment which has provided more insight into how the courts view its protections. It is clear there are limitations to the freedom of speech, including:

  • Obscenities
  • Libel and Slander
  • Fighting Words
  • Child Pornography
  • Perjury
  • Blackmail
  • Incitement to Create Immediate Lawless Action.
  • True Threats

The court has repeatedly ruled that speech that makes people feel uncomfortable, is offensive or that is contrary to popular opinion IS protected. In other words, with the exception of when hate speech would involve a threat or become an incitement to lawless action, it is protected under the Constitution. In Europe, many countries have what is called” group libel laws” which can protect groups of people from hateful speech.

Freedom of Speech in America

Free Speech in Europe

Many Americans have a point of view that freedom of speech in Europe is similar to that in the United States but that is not the case. Germany, for example, has multiple laws regulating freedoms, including freedom of expression, that have their roots based in the post World War II era. Hate speech in Europe is generally not viewed as a critical freedom. Hate speech is often regulated in the interest of “harmony”. As terrorism becomes more common on the continent, more policies are being enacted throughout the Europe to limit freedom of speech and expression.

Free Speech and the Internet

Many believe that free speech rights extend to the internet but that is not necessarily true. Companies like Google have their own right to set guidelines for posting content on their websites. This is interesting in that today, major websites like Google, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook have more control over your speech through their policies than the U.S. Government. These large corporations generally attempt to operate under the rules and guidelines in the countries they serve but that isn’t always the case. Many have at least have some form of “hate speech” which restrict what may be posted by users. Many of these companies use more of a European model when it comes to freedom of speech, which is more restrictive than the laws we have in the United States.

The power that some tech companies wield over free speech came into focus following the violence in Charlottesville, VA in the summer of 2017. Some tech companies shut down the websites of white-supremacist groups following the incident, raising the eyebrows of freedom of speech advocates. The companies ultimately stated that these websites “violated their terms of service”, allowing them to shut down the websites.

It is interesting to note that freedom of speech is not the only right we voluntarily give up when using the websites of some major companies. Each day we give up more and more of our rights to privacy, freely providing our personal information and even allowing internet-based auto and video recording devices into our homes. While these policies are spelled out, they are often buried in page upon page in the extensive user policies of these websites and devices. The reality is that very few of us thoroughly read these terms of service.

While some groups are aggressively pursuing the protection of our rights and liberties, many of us are simply signing them away in pursuit of convenience, better communication, and the desire for advanced technology.

Whats your opinion on Freedom of Speech in America? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below and if you know someone who might be interested in this article, feel free to share it. Click here for more Articles about Freedom of Speech

Catching Up With Bitcoin Value: Where’s It Been? Where’s It Going?

Bitcoin Value

Catching up with the Bitcoin Value!

Bitcoin Value

Catching Up With Bitcoin Value: Where’s It Been? Where’s It Going?

If you are a late-comer to the world of Bitcoins, don’t be alarmed. There are many who don’t understand how or where this digital currency made its way into our vernacular or our economy. If you’ve been following Bitcoins for years and understand their history and the reasoning behind them, feel free to take a break. This is for the people who need to catch up on what Bitcoins are, how they came into being, why they are perceived as having value, how they are being used today, and their potential purpose in the future.

A Quick History of Bitcoins

Bitcoins have a relatively short history, being first introduced in 2009. They were created as a cryptocurrency, basically a digital asset that is controlled by cryptography. More simply put, Bitcoin is digital money that its users agree to trade for things or services of value.

Bitcoins are earned or traded between users over a block-chain ledger. Block-chain is a network of computers worldwide, where each user is identified by their own address or “wallet.” Unlike traditional “money”, there is no central bank. Instead, users with access to the block-chain ledger verify who has how many bitcoins so the validity of transactions can be determined.

Both block-chain technology and bitcoins were created by a person or persons who went by the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto. Transactions take place as follows:

  1. A transaction is created.
  2. The transaction is broadcast to the peer-to-peer block-chain network.
  3. The transaction is validated and bitcoins are transferred to the verified “wallet”.
  4. The “ledger” maintains a record of the transaction.

Bitcoins and block-chain technology work hand in hand although there are those who are using block-chain technology in more diverse ways.

How do Bitcoins Have Value?

In the early days of money, coins had value because the metal content in them had value. Today, that is generally not the case. A dollar bill is valued at a dollar because we all agree it is worth a dollar. The same is true for those who use bitcoins. Bitcoins have value because those who exchange them believe they have value. To add to the perception of “value” the creator of bitcoin had decided to cap the production of the digital currency to 21 million bitcoins.

You may ask. “If Bitcoins exist only in the digital realm, how is it possible for them to have value or be exchanged?” It is important to note that worldwide, most financial transactions today are already essentially digital. If you are paid through direct deposit, pay bills online, and use a debit card for day to day expenses, you are already trading in the digital realm.

The Rise and Fall and Rise and Fall of Bitcoin

For the first couple of years bitcoins were “collectible” mainly by techies and had little to no value. In 2010, a year after first appearing on the scene, a Jacksonville, Florida pizza shop sold two pizzas for 10,000 bitcoins. In early 2011, the price reached $1 per bitcoin, and soared to $31 by mid-year. By the end of the year it fell back down to $2, In 2012, the value slowly rose, rebounding to $13 by the end of the year.

The year 2013 was a remarkable year for bitcoins as it soared to $266 by mid-April, dropped to $100 by June, and then peaked at $1,232 by the end of November. In 2014, the price bounced between $340 and $1,000 throughout the year.

By 2015, bitcoins value had settled in to the $200-$500 range, and took another leap in value to $500-$700 through much of 2016. But few were prepared for the coming explosion in the value of bitcoins in 2017.

In January of 2017, the value of a bitcoin reached over $1,100 and was just getting started. In May and June the price soared to $2,000 and $3,000 respectively. In August, Bitcoin reached a new peak at $4,600 and briefly reached $5,000 in September. As of the fourth quarter of 2017, the price remained at over $4,000.

Those two pizzas in Jacksonville would be worth about $40 million dollars in today’s value for bitcoins.

Bitcoin Value Graphic

The Future of Bitcoin

Since 2013, Bitcoins have become increasingly accepted, helping to spur its growth and value. Today, many countries acknowledge it as currency and it is the most widely accepted crytocurrency on the planet. In the United States, the IRS refers to bitcoins as an intangible asset subject to taxation.

The cryptocurrency is not without its challenges. Because users store their bitcoins in “wallets” with pseudonyms, the precise identity of each is unknown. This makes bitcoins the perfect currency for nefarious activity, especially on the dark web. Another issue is that the value of bitcoins are extremely volatile and is constantly changing. This is challenging in a currency and even more risky as an investment.

The recent rises and falls in the value of bitcoins has people speculating once again whether bitcoins are the future of currency or a path to financial disaster. An article in USA Today noted two recent challenges to the future of Bitcoin. The first is that one of China’s largest Bitcoin exchanges is closing ahead of reports the country will order all of the cryptocurrency’s exchanges to cease operations. The second was a quote attributed to the CEO of JPMorgan Chase calling Bitcoin a “fraud” and stating that if any of his traders were found dealing in them they would be fired.

Never the less, the trading goes on and Bitcoin popularity continues to grow, especially in internet transactions. Keep in mind, this is a worldwide currency that has only been in existence for less than nine years, half of which it struggled in relative obscurity. If 2017 is any indication, the future of this particular cryptocurrency will be interesting to watch, even if from the sidelines.

OrangeWebsite accepts Bitcoin as a payment method for any and all of our services. For more information about us, please don’t hesitate to contact us here. If you found this article interesting or know someone who might feel free to share it using the social media buttons on your screen.