eToro hosts Hub Culture Barcelona salon dinner during 2013 Mobile World Congress

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1st Mar 2013




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Hub Culture's Salon Series rolled into Barcelona this week with a top-flight dinner discussion during the GSMA's 2013 Mobile World Congress.  At the dinner, key executives in the industry gathered to talk about the emerging trends in the mobile finance sector.
 
Hosted by eToro at the understated, elegant Ohla Gastro at the Ohla Hotel, the group included influencers from across the world of mobile, finance and big data, including Moshe Franko and Selim Benbasat of Admingle, Rami Shaulov of amdocs, Amy Alvarez at AT&T, BlackBerry's Liz Kanter, Fabien Koch of Deutsche Telecom, Yoni Assia at eToro, Kwame Ferreira and Christoph Dressel of Kwame Corp, Mehmet Maruki at Mobicomm, William Hoffman of the World Economic Forum, and Jen Herman formerly at Zynga.
 
Following presentation of a selection of gastronomic tapas from Michelin star chef Xavier Franco that included foaming oysters, conceptual Iberico and other delights, the group generated a  heated discussion that ultimately centered on the ultimate impact of technology on our existence, and how mobile and computing are drastically changing both what we do for payment and how we get paid.
 
It is estimated that by 2018 90% of humanity will own a mobile device, mostly connected to the web.  This unprecedented adoption level is changing traditional relationships between work and productivity.  In the context of 50%+ youth unemployment in Spain, Yoni offered that mobile and internet technology is changing the very definition of work, creating a society that will eventually obtain value and payment from a variety of sources, instead of a single job.  In such a scenario, a person would earn credits and currency for a variety of activities. Viewing an ad, collecting micropayments on a blog, finance and stock transactions on a trading platform like eToro would all generate passive and residual income for the consumer in the long tail.
 
Liz offered that income from ten different hobbies is not likely to provide enough income to support a family, and that such payments are likely to be less generous outside of influencers in various sectors. Technology is "making up to 60% of the workforce obsolete" and mobile devices at least unlock opportunity for consumers to network and engage for their own benefit, with expanded entrepreneurship a countervailing force.
 
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Nowhere is entreprenuerial ring more true than with women, where Amy described AT&T's partnership with the GSMA to support expanded financial freedom for women in developing markets through the deployment of finance on smart phones. These actions are changing not just the lives of women, but their surrounding networks as well.  Another new job? Games. Jen mentioned the evolution of activity on the web around gaming, and that 'non-gamers' have become gamers, widening the ways that people can earn value in the digital space. 
 
As mobile tech deepens its hold on consumer life, a blurring line between personal and workspace is forcing handset companies to bifurcate the device, creating contained zones for personal and work security, as evidenced in the new BlackBerry10 and Samsung Knox platforms. Phones are also ground zero for an emerging payments and currency battle, where big data is changing everything.  William, who runs the big data group at the World Economic Forum, outlined how work is being done to use data to enhance collective action in crisis moments and disasters, saving lives through intelligent data.  
 
In the payment space, this same big data is unlocking new thinking about how we measure and share value. Kwame and Christoph weighed in on how startup Plingr is "making the wallet a public space" by enabling users to create their own currency systems to share with friends.  BBM Money, just announced in Indonesia, takes this a step further by providing a new P2P micropayment platform between over 10 million BBM accounts across 1,000+ isolated islands in Indonesia.  
 
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In the mobile ad space, Selim talked about Admingle's exciting ability to create cash out of social rank and influence by reversing the traditional ad sales model to make direct payments to individuals from companies, fostering an army of social earners. Its a component to the micro-pay economy core to Yoni's vision of the future of work.  
 
As large players like Deutsche Telekom work to expand efficiency while preserving their revenue base, Fabien talked about specialisation and the transformation of telecoms into a new type of content and application player, actively working to expand options and payment platforms for their millions of users.
 
The bottom line?  Mobile Internet is all about more of everything - data, options, and opportunity.  This mix is setting the groundwork for diversification of supply sources for money itself, not just the ways we acquire it.  Different regions have a different view on this - but the core everyone agree on is that currently many people are not working or getting paid for what they really want to do for the rest of their life, and these tools provide a glimmer of hope that each individual will have more opportunity to figure out what they do want to be doing, and give them the tools to begin doing it.
 
From the cubicle to the smart phone, how we get paid, who pays, and for what we get paid are changing drastically.  The future of finance is about payment ecosystems that will provide diversified income, and just maybe, a more social gift economy.  The ultimate gift economy? "The US printed 1.5 trillion and gave it to the banks - now that's a gift economy," said Yoni.  It won't be long before mobile tech takes the reins and enables individuals to lead how, where and when money is shared, earned, spent and gifted. At the individual level, its all about specialization. "Even beggars have blogs," finished Fabien.