Self-driving cars could provide a £62bn boost to the UK economy by 2030

The UK has long been hailed as holding pole position when it comes to the development of driverless cars.  Leading industry experts from inside The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) released a report this week which suggest that as a result of its supremacy, the UK could enjoy a £62bn economic boost by 2030. It did, however, warn that a no-deal Brexit could jeopardise this potential.

The UK has significant advantages over its competing countries in pushing connected and autonomous vehicles.  Among other factors, we enjoy forward-thinking legislation allowing autonomous cars to be insured and driven on a greater proportion of roads than elsewhere in the world.  Additionally, the UK can boast a highly skilled labour force and a tech-savvy customer base; both of which can be used to lead the design, creation, manufacture and purchasing of these vehicles.  In detail, the report ranked the UK above competitors including Germany, US, Japan and South Korea as a global destination for the mass rollout of autonomous cars

On top of this, the UK has the world’s first insurance legislation for autonomous vehicles already in place.  Our network of motorways, urban and rural roads all compile to form a myriad of routes suitable for self-driving cars.  Our potholed roads and poor weather are a blessing too – apparently!! After all, if a car can navigate itself in the rain and negotiate pot holes by the dozen it can handle just about anywhere!  

Mike Hawes, chief executive of The SMMT revealed more than £500m had been invested in research and development by industry and government.  He added that another £740m in communications infrastructure has been directed towards autonomous cars. As a result of such hearty investment, he added that widespread trials of autonomous vehicles were already under way, and that the industry would attempt to achieve the government’s heady ambitions.  The aim is to have a fleet of driverless vehicles on the roads by 2021.

Challenging the claims made by the SMMT though, is Andy Palmer, the chief executive of Aston Martin.  He hit back by saying that he did not expect to see full autonomy in the next 20 years. Instead, he expects;

“You’re going to see robotaxis in geofenced areas as early as 2021-22. I don’t think you’ll see a commercial distribution of level-four vehicles until the mid-2020s. I don’t think you’ll see level five in my career. To drive up a mountain or a Delhi or London street – I think we’re dreaming if we think it’s going to be around the corner.”

It’s exciting times, whatever the long term projections turn out to be.  We are lucky enough to neighbour one of the leading companies pioneering this progressive technology.  Here at Ignite Digital HQ, our office sits just below those of FiveAI. Five AI are leading the pack. They have started testing five self driving cars in Bromley and Croydon – the latest step in its plans to eventually roll out a full service across the streets of London.

Watch this space!

UK Gaming industry market worth a record $5.7 billion

Last month, saw the phenomenon that is Fortnite hit a high of 250 million registered players.   Quite staggeringly, with numbers such as these, if these Fortnite users were indeed dropped on an island, they would populate it to be the fifth largest island in the world! It is clear that Gaming is big.  Really big.

It is perhaps no wonder then, that this week it was reported that the UK gaming industry is now worth a record $5.7 billion, with titles such as the aforementioned Fortnite and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds at the heart of the boom.  These two online only games helped push gaming software revenues to a record $2bn according to Ukie, the trade body for UK gaming which has compiled the figures.

The success of gaming isn’t surprising, given that gaming is now worth more than the worlds of music and movies combined.

Ukie CEO Dr Jo Twist remarked that,

“The UK games industry is a cornerstone of the country’s cultural landscape and continues to work hard to create new, innovative and exciting content that consumers want to experience, and that helps to drive the industry forward year-on-year”.

Despite the rise in online only games, Ukie figures revealed that console sales still performed well throughout 2018, despite the fact that the market saw no new releases.

VR had a tougher time however.  Sales within this sector were down 20% since 2017.  This didn’t affect the affect the wider gaming hardware market too much though.  Despite the drop, this arm of the industry still saw growth of more than 10%.

Up until the advent of online gaming, it was quite a lonely occupation.  However, the collaborative nature facilitated by online games has created a tribe.  Something that is clearly appealing to us across the globe. Niche gaming boutiques are cropping up across the high street, allowing keen gamers to experience the thrills of playing alongside mates in a collaborative setting.  Leading the charge in the UK are GAME, who launched their BELONG arenas back in 2016.   Since then, they have opened more than 20 studios across the breadth of the UK; each allowing us to experience the enjoyment of gaming in a setting complete with the best consoles and latest software.  We can vouch for the appeal personally here at Ignite Digital HQ. We enjoyed a fun filled couple of hours at the Bristol arena as part of our Christmas celebrations. It was a great experience and certainly one we’ll be repeating in the future!

Swedish fintech Zaver, raises $1.2 million seed for it’s P2P payment platform.

It was only earlier this week that our Client Relationship Director, Miles blogged about the dominance of P2P payment platforms.  It stands to reason that we should highlight a story which substantiates his findings!

Zaver are a Swedish fintech who have built a payment platform that facilitates peer to peer trades and more.   

Amir Marandi, co-founded Zaver alongside Linus Malmén, and has remarked that Zaver are the first platform independent checkout solution for p2p transactions.

This week it has been revealed that Zaver have picked up over $1.2 million in seed funding. VC firms Inventure and Inbox Capital, have led the backing, as well as a number of relatively well-established angel investors.  

Zaver are one of a number of disruptive startups looking to shake-up the digital payment solutions space.  Their SaaS can be employed alongside a stream of accompanying apps to bring together buyers, sellers and merchants with the promise of “secure payments on your terms”.  Zaver intend to facilitate trades between peers by enabling the use of flexible payment solutions including direct payments, “buy now, pay later” and instalment options.

They are unique in a number of ways.  Zaver’s platform claims to embed “intelligent fraud detection” algorithms in tandem with the automatic creation of “verified digital agreements” between transacting parties.  Indeed, Marandi goes on to say;

“We try to make p2p trades as safe as possible for all parties involved and offer flexible payment options, without compromising on the user experience”.

Zaver also offers a digital payment solution for enterprises.  Zaver for Business enables merchants to utilise the platform to increase conversion and reduce transaction costs; a product with appeal to those companies who offer omni-channel retail, selling products and services both on and offline.

Miles’s blog from earlier in the week highlighted the dominant user group of P2P solutions to be the young, and this is reinforced by Zaver’s own data.  Predominantly, the platform is used by students wishing to sell their iPhone on a classified site in a secure way, or the everyman who wants to buy a used car today with an option to pay later.

Zaver face competition within a market saturated by emergent fintechs and established institutions.  It is the former though who Marandi cites as their main antagonists. Of the wider market, he states;

“It’s not the banks, but rather upcoming startups wanting to innovate the payment industry”.

If you are interested in reading more about the trends and opportunities within the digital payments space, click here to read Miles’s blog in full.

Warren introduces a bill that would hold big tech execs personally responsible for data breaches.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has made no secret of her contempt for Silicon Valley.  To a crowd in New York, she recently revealed she was “sick” of the “free loading billionaires” created by big tech.

Going one step further this week, Warren introduced a new piece of legislation that would make it easier to hold company executives criminally accountable should the personal data of Americans be breached.

The Corporate Executive Accountability Act is yet another push from Warren against corporations and their leaders.  She has made holding these persons to account a pivotal point of her presidential campaign. If elected, she intends to make these giants responsible for both their dominance and (perceived) corruption of the market.

Should it be approved, the bill would widen the criminal liability of “negligent” executives of corporations should they commit crimes, repeatedly break federal laws, or harm a large number of Americans by way of civil rights violations, including their data privacy.  

Mid March saw, Our Week in Digital highlight Warren’s first significant proposals.  Here she focussed upon the market power of big tech companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple.  She suggested that if elected, she would work to dissolve these companies through anti-trust law.  Discussion on revamping American antitrust law has been a subject for debate across academic circles for years.  On this occasion though, Warren has used her distinctive position to push the debate into mainstream 21st century politics.

Up until now, data and market violations across the tech space have resulted in little more that large fines.  The deep pockets of Google, Amazon et al make these penalties no more than small change, however. If Warren’s bill is approved, the goal posts would shift significantly.  Executives could be held personally responsible and as such face penal action. Maybe a possible jail term will make them adjust their leadership? These heavy weight chiefs could face up to a year in jail for their first violation and up to three years for subsequent violations.

Warren has certainly made her view point crystal clear.  Perhaps indicative of how she views the American justice system at large, she used an op-ed article written for  The Washington Post as a soap box.

In it she stated;

“It’s not equal justice when a kid with an ounce of pot can get thrown in jail while a wealthy executive can walk away with a bonus after his company cheats millions of people…personal accountability is the only way to ensure that executives at corporations will think twice before ignoring the law. It’s time to stop making excuses and start making real change.”

About the author: As a founder of Ignite Digital Talent, I lead our brilliant team to ensure we deliver time and time again for our clients. I also stay closely networked with industry influencers to ensure we are well placed to understand the issues and challenges our clients face.

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