Agile Innovation Update – October 2016

Each month we bring you the FreshMinds Agile Innovation Update. This month we’re looking at developments in virtual reality and payment technology from Alibaba, ING’s return to the UK, how nuTonomy is researching autonomous cars and car users’ attitudes towards sharing personal data.

VR makes payment as simple as nodding your head

This year has already seen experiments with “selfie pay” and using everything from stickers to jewellery to buy goods. Now Alibaba is going one step further, trialing a new feature that will make paying for items as simple as nodding your head. The Chinese e-commerce giant is experimenting with virtual reality, having developed a VR shopping experience where shoppers can browse virtual malls and purchase goods by simply looking at an item and nodding. New research from Ericsson Consumer Labs suggests there is appetite for this type of innovation, with almost two thirds of smartphone users wanting to see VR being used to help them see items in real size and form when they shop online. Is Alibaba’s VR shopping mall an indicator of what the world of online shopping could look like in the future?

Disruptive new app marks ING’s return to the UK

ING is making a comeback after retreating from the UK retail banking market four years ago. This time the Dutch bank is taking a different approach: launching a mobile app called Yolt, which will mine data across different bank accounts to help consumers budget and save their money. As one of the first major players to launch a service – albeit in beta – which relies on data from competitor banks, this is a landmark move. But it could well be a sign of things to come as open banking regulation comes into force which will require banks to allow third parties access to customer data via APIs by 2018 (with customers’ permission, of course).

nuTonomy runs “world’s largest focus group” on self-driving cars

nuTonomy, the firm hoping to bring a self-driving taxi service to Singapore, is running what it’s calling “the world’s largest, most expensive focus group” to understand how consumers react to self-driving cars. The firm is taking an innovative approach to research: offering members of the public free rides to uncover the extent to which autonomous vehicles should behave like human drivers. The groups are “extremely valuable” said nuTonomy CEO, Karl Iagnemma. “There’s just no other way to get the information.” nuTonomy’s decision to test with real consumers in the real world is a fantastic approach to research that’s helping them to uncover a level of insight that’s simply not possible through some of the more traditional research techniques, which can rely on perceived rather than actual consumer reactions.

Car users willing to share personal data provided they get something in return

New research from McKinsey makes promising reading for automotive manufacturers: the majority of car users in the US, China and Germany are willing to share personal data with third parties if they see value in the services they receive in return. In the US, 70% of consumers said they would be willing to share data in return for connected navigation services (the most popular use case in that market), whilst 90% of Chinese respondents would hand over their data to gain access to predictive maintenance services (their preferred use case). To harness this interest, automotive manufacturers will need to think carefully about how to provide services which meet consumer needs. If they achieve this, the returns could be great, with consumers expressing a willingness to pay to use the data-driven services they see value in.