How Remote Work Is Becoming a Stable For Small Businesses
Brian Foote of HUMBL says companies that aren't reinvesting into technology for their people, or a digital product mix for consumers, will fall behind other brands
The fintech world is fast-moving, but Brian Foote—and the rest of the HUMBL team—are having no trouble keeping up.
In 2020, HUMBL was named by Forbes as one of the “rising startups to watch”, thanks to its fresh take on how to use money in a modern world. More recently, the company was featured by the UN 2030 Agenda.
With a long track record of consumer technology success, Foote is the perfect person to get advice on what the future will bring. He recently shared his thoughts on the impact of COVID-19 on digital technology, how remote work is changing, and the Web of the future.
Why is it more important than ever for small businesses to have access to technology-based tools?
With COVID-19, the global acceleration to contactless and digital means of commerce has been accelerated by a decade. Consumers and merchants that do not have immediate, inexpensive access to digital technologies will be left further behind in an already widening global economic pyramid.
How can small businesses gain the trust of their audience in an increasingly “remote” work environment?
If white-collar, first-world workers get access to financial services and healthcare technologies, but local merchants and frontline workers don’t, then technology is failing at its core and that will impact the fabric of society long term.
Companies that aren’t reinvesting into technology for their people, or a digital product mix for consumers, will fall behind other brands that are moving faster or more thoughtfully during this transition period.
What tools are customers and merchants using to connect in an often remote, digital economy?
I think you look at Zoom, Shopify, Slack, Upwork and Etsy, as some of the clear winners from 2020 in terms of SMB tools. Anything that can help with communications, messaging and product listings in distributed formats.
For 2021, we think it’s financial services and payments, which have been the last to update. Cash was proliferated around the 1860s in the US, and physical credit cards and receipt printers started their cycles in the 1960s.
We think that the coming year is about packaging those modalities into digital formats: discovery, payment, financial services and customer relationship management services that go “beyond the receipt printer” as the world opens back up to foot traffic.
If customers and merchants can harness those tools to better connect, and stay connected, it will create a more elastic layer of Web 3 commerce. We hope that becomes synonymous with HUMBL in the coming years.
What are your thoughts on safety and security as it relates to the many tools used by small businesses?
In terms of cybersecurity: No one is safe. You look at megatechs like Twitter suffering from social engineering attacks or the New Zealand stock exchange having to shut down for several days due to breaches. It’s out there.
Then imagine individualized data or SMB workforces with distributed footprints and technology patterns, and the opportunities get even broader for information compromise.
Technologies like tokenization, encryption, and blockchain will have a vital role in protecting small business data at scale in the future, particularly as we enter the quantum computing era.
The ability to minimize attack vectors, perform deep human training around protocol and passwords and then have really good internal cybersecurity measures is critical even for small merchants that are processing customer data.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted the way small businesses connect with consumers?
We think that the coming decade will signal the rise of the fastest-growing segment of the Millenial and Gen Z economy, which we call “Freelancers'' or “Nano-Merchants.”
The future of SMB is transitioning from four walls and a sign to remote work and independent contracting. The COVID-19 economy has only accelerated the level of independence that was already engendered in these younger age groups, who are the merchants of the future.
Their expectation for Web 3.0 is an elastic, personal, and business toolset that travels portably with the customer and merchant around the world.
What tools are you most excited to watch develop post-COVID-19?
We are entering a financial technology cycle that will place consumer “super apps,” bank branches, and trading markets into a couple of clicks, right in the palm of your hand.
When you hear guys like Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan, saying that Wall Street needs to be “scared shitless” of the FinTech proliferation happening in labs and garages out in Silicon Valley, you know you are on the right track for a decade of disruption.