Archive for June, 2012

Adam Lawrence, Chief Executive of The Royal Mint was the guest speaker at the Cardiff Breakfast Club this morning. The native Australian’s early deflection of comments about certain ongoing sporting endeavours was well received by the audience, as was his engaging discussion of the historical but progressive institution, and his views on “The Future of Cash”.

The Royal Mint is over 1000 years old, and was originally situated within the Tower of London. It has been based at its 38-acre Llantrisant site since 1968, and is one of the most significant businesses in South Wales. The fully integrated site encompasses everything from design, to foundry, to marketing, and employs over 900 people. It is the sole producer of circulating UK currency and the world’s leading export mint, supplying more than 50 countries worldwide. Adam joined the Mint as Chief Operating Officer and May 2010, becoming Chief Executive in January 2011.

Discussing current payment habits, Adam stated that while spending has doubled since 2000, cash payments have only increased by 7%. However, this does not mean cash will soon become obsolete. Adam used cheques as an example. While they will be responsible for only 1% of payments by 2018, a move to get rid of cheques altogether a few years ago was unsuccessful. New payment methods tend to be additive, rather than replacing established ones.

Adam discussed ways in which payment technology is evolving with genuine interest, having tried a few of them himself! The Mint must be aware of and respond to the “new world” of digital technology, such as Barclaycard’s mini stick-on Visa credit card. Fixed to the back of a mobile phone, payment is made by holding it over a terminal, without the need to sign or enter a PIN. Adam believes the smartphone is the future of payment technology, with Barclay’s mini card just one way of “making people comfortable using their phones to pay for things”. 

Pingit is Barclays’ latest innovation, and works similarly to text messaging.  From his own experience of the money transfer application, Adam deemed it excellent in terms of security, but not yet entirely practical. However, each “failure” only brings a development “closer to success”.

Adam remained resolute however that these new technologies will not replace cash any time soon. It still plays a “critical role in every economy in the world”, and has some real advantages. Cash is trustworthy, universally accepted, and offers better privacy and security than cards. Importantly, it enables the spender to budget. With cash, “you can’t spend what you don’t have”, meaning a “reversion” to cash during tougher economic times.

Looking towards the future, Adam again emphasised that new systems are additive, and while cash use will erode it is not likely to be wiped out. Other more “vulnerable” payment methods such as cheques, credit cards and store cards are likely to disappear first. Currently, Adam said, the solutions we have are technological, rather than practical – for now at least, cash is “here to stay”.

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With so much negative news around the world at present, what a great pleasure it is to read in today’s Western Mail the fantastic news about a number of Welsh men and women who are leading the way in so many different fields of life.

Tom James (2nd from left) celebrates Team GB’s Gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He is just one of Wales’ sporting stars to have their place at London 2012 confirmed.

From the inspirational business people, groups and entrepreneurs honored at the 3rd Inspire Wales Awards held at City Hall last night, to the comments made by Sir Steve Redgrave, Britain’s greatest Olympian, about our own potential gold medalist rower, Tom James, whose place in the GB flagship coxless IV has been confirmed after the final rowing trials. Indeed, with other Welsh Olympic hopefuls including hurdler Dai Greene, cyclist Geraint Thomas, world champion triathlete Helen Jenkins and other selected members of Team GB, Wales should once again be punching above its weight and help Britain to its greatest medal haul yet.

While we all worry about the crisis in the Eurozone, over which we mere mortals have little or no control, it is reassuring that our little nation still produces more individuals per head of population than any other region of the UK that go the extra mile to improve their sporting performance or help and inspire their communities with dedication and creativity.  Such can also be said of our business men and women, scientists, academics, writers, artists, and so on, Wales continues to produce “winners” in every sector. Let’s celebrate it!

And let’s start with a resounding Good Luck to Sam and his boys in Melbourne tomorrow. To coin a phrase used by a certain Rebekah Brookes recently – “we are rooting for you!”

Former Peacocks employee Lowri Jones found a new role after training with ReAct and e-academy

As we look forward to a wet weekend (and also a certain game of rugby Down Under!), I was really delighted with two bits of news this week, which demonstrate people’s creativity and inventiveness in times of crisis.

Firstly, in yesterday’s Western Mail it was super to read an example of an ex-Peacocks employee really picking themselves up after the despair they must have felt after the closure of the chain. Young Lowri Jones, from Cardiff, had worked for Peacocks as an assistant merchandiser since 2009. Faced with redundancy, she joined a ReAct sponsored training course provided by our client, e-academy, and has since found employment in the merchandising division at Leekes.

I wish all ex-employees of Peacocks all the very best in their search for new employment. From reading about these examples of positive thinking and action, perhaps many more ex-colleagues will find new appointments.

Secondly, I was thrilled to read of the discussion being held to secure televised American National Hockey League matches at the Millennium Stadium. It’s a perfect venue for such events, and if it goes ahead would coincide with Cardiff’s recognition as European Capital of Sport in 2014. The benefits to the city and to Wales would be numerous. It would open up the region for visitors and ice hockey fans from across Europe and even further afield. Every support should be given to the team leading this super initiative.

Very n-ice: Could this exciting sport be coming to the Millennium Stadium?

Enjoy the weekend – and enjoy the rugby!