Humans are making an unexpected comeback as banks realise that humans actually like to talk to other humans from time to time. Bank of America, according to Reuters, is "blending digital with personalized financial planning". The problem here is that the concept of personalised service means very different things depending on your income. For millionaire, personalised service is delivered by persons. For the rest of us, personalised service means some algorithm is paying attention to your data. "The new service underscores how Bank of America is targeting downscale clients even as certain banks like Morgan Stanley have opted to reserve human advice for wealthy customers," writes Reuters. "The Bank of America service, Merrill Guided Investing with an Advisor, builds on its robo adviser launched in 2017, adding the ability for clients to call or make an appointment with a bank employee to discuss their financial goals. Providing online investors access to a human adviser is growing more popular in the wealth management industry as studies have shown many clients prefer a combination of digital and personal advice." Punting a hundred dollars won't get you far though: the service is reserved for those investing a minimum of $20,000. Lafferty News predicts that humans will be the big story of 2020.
Australia's New Payments Plan will give another big push to QR codes in an effort to digitalise the last mile. "The NPP's push into the QR space through the release of its own standard means that merchants who might otherwise eschew a traditional EMV mobile payments terminal are now significantly more likely to enable cashless transactions because of the lower infrastructure overheads," writes IT News Australia. "In basic terms, the NPP's QR code push and standard release means merchants will be able to access the technology from domestic payments providers — like banks and local payment schemes — without having to hook-up to an overseas provider. Just as importantly for merchants, it means that the money lands in their accounts in real time, so it's as good as cash without the physical security risks attendant with cash."
Speaking of the last mile, if this story turns out to be a joke, it's a good one. Everyone is obsessed now with the "last mile", including Swedish start up Cangoroo, which is aiming to differentiate itself from scooter companies such as Lime and Wind. Swedish business Cangoroo announced that it is launching a pogo-stick service. "Good news for anyone who's ever wanted to mix the inherent danger of the trampoline with the thrill of getting nowhere slowly, while simultaneously wondering whether their skeletons should be in more shards. Sweden-based startup Cangoroo is planning to "deploy hundreds of pogo sticks" to "select cities" in the U.S. and elsewhere," reports Gizmodo. Baffled San Francisco residents wondered if Cangoroo has ever tried pogo-ing down Lombard Street or one of the other streets in the famously hilly city. Cangoroo chief executive Adam Mikkelsen is spending his days denying that it's a joke. "With a lot of initial questions along the line of 'is this for real?', we feel the need to underline that Cangoroo is 100% real," he said. "Our choice of shared pogo sticks as our first product is a planned out strategy in order to stand out in today's media landscape and build an engaging brand in the generic "last mile transportation" category. There's a video to go with the service which is so cringeworthy — think friends hopping and waving to one another in slow motion to generic conference music — that it could possibly be a sign of the end times. Failing that, space hoppers could be next.
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