Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is

SF Office North Bay fundraiser

by Tricia Nugent

At Highwire one of our core values is balance — and part of finding balance is creating opportunities to explore our personal passions in our work lives. A passion of mine has long been giving back to communities in need, so this Giving Tuesday I’m happy to share some of the initiatives we’ve undertaken at Highwire to give back to our local communities.

This past October our New York City office volunteered as a group at a Ronald McDonald House to cook lunch for families in residence there. Ronald McDonald House Charities provide, among other services, free housing and meals to patients receiving critical treatment at hospitals far from their homes. Our volunteers spent an afternoon preparing pizzas and salads and serving them to a grateful and hungry group. The experience was as fun as it was rewarding — and the pizzas weren’t bad either!

Following a string of wildfires north of the San Francisco Bay, Highwire’s San Francisco office organized and hosted an evening fundraiser event to raise money for victims who lost their homes and belongings. The event involved cheese, oysters, auction prizes, a raffle and lots of wine, and ultimately raised over $18,000 for the North Bay fire recovery effort via donations to the Redwood Credit Union.

As the weather has cooled back on the East Coast, our NYC office has once again begun collecting coats for the annual New York Cares Coat Drive. Exploring another Highwire value of collaboration, we involve our entire building in the effort to collect warm coats to be distributed to the homeless throughout the winter. We’re off to a good start and hope to fill even more bags this year to spread the warmth farther across the city.

In the past, our San Francisco office has worked with Family Dog Rescue and the Raphael House. Our Chicago office has worked with the Salvation Army and the Lincoln Park Conservancy, and our NYC office also worked with Bideawee and the good+foundation.

I’m grateful to work for a company that supports and shares my passions and gives back to our communities not just on Giving Tuesday, but every day. How are you celebrating this Giving Tuesday? Feel free to share in the comments.

Why You Should Skip the Selfie During Your Next Museum Trip

Image source: Melia Robinson/Business Insider

The Color Factory, 29Rooms, Museum of Ice Cream. What do all three of these places have in common? Millennials love them. Pop-up museums are the newest Instagram-worthy trend targeting selfie-loving millennials. Who wouldn’t want to take a picture in a giant yellow ball pit or try sweet treats from famous ice cream shops around the U.S.?

These multi-sensory exhibits showcase a different side of art: accessibility. No longer do you have to take an Instagram photo from behind a velvet rope without the flash on. These pop-up museums actually encourage you to physically interact with exhibits and take photos. Drawing on walls with giant markers, playing in rooms with snow-like confetti sprinkling from the ceiling, and diving into a giant pool of sprinkles allows people to experience art in unique ways.

But if you’re hiding behind a small screen and taking photos or boomerangs, are you enjoying the full experience? Or a better question, will you remember the details of the delicious taste of the ice cream or the the colors of the flowers dangling from above? Unfortunately, probably not. Research shows that if you’re taking a picture, you’re focused on the act of taking a picture, not the action happening around it.

This “photo-taking impairment effect” was studied at an art museum. Students were broken into separate groups, one group taking photos of objects and the others just observing. Back in the lab, very few students who took photos could remember important details about the objects, compared to those who simply observed.

Why is this? The researcher believed that the students who used cameras were impaired, because they subconsciously counted on the camera to remember the nitty gritty details. The researcher also cautioned against thinking of photos as memories. Although the photo will remain the same, your will memories change over time. Thanks, brain!

Does this mean you should stop taking photos? Of course not. Just remember that it’s about more than getting the perfect photo for social. Maybe try putting down your phone or limiting yourself to a few photos per visit.

What We Learned At Money20/20 2017

Courtesy Jefferson Graham

Setting up biometrics for payment verification at Money20/20. Photo courtesy of Jefferson Graham.

Biometrics, facial recognition and implanted chips were just some of the advancements in payments at this year’s Money20/20 conference. Trending topics included digital currencies and blockchain with supporters such as Steve Wozniak and skeptics like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Uber, with partners Barclays and Visa, released a credit card. Shopping experiences are changing with augmented reality glasses, iris authentication and advanced mobile payments. Check out some of our key takeaways from this event.

New Payments/Higher Adoption With Alternative Methods

  • Only 25% of US retailers offer contactless terminals accepting mobile payments and only 10% of consumers pay with mobile. Despite these low stats, tech companies are trying new methods.
  • Biometrics – Facial recognition can be safer and more reliable than a thumbprint. Users can sign in with their eyes, facial expressions and voice. Even traditional credit card companies are adopting this. Visa is offering biometrics for its mobile wallet, Visa Checkout and Mastercard are forgoing signatures post-purchases.
  • Finger – FingoPay, a finger scanner connected to your credit card can be used without a cell phone. “You become the wallet,” said Nick Dryden of FingoPay.
  • Implanted Chips – The Wisconsin company, Three Square Market, that implanted microchips in their employees last summer also made an appearance. No batteries, pins, or passwords are needed to make a payment.

Digital Currencies and Blockchain

  • Steve Wozniak thinks Bitcoin is better than both gold and the US dollar because it cannot be diluted. Bitcoin is more mathematical than gold because it’s regulated and “nobody can change mathematics.”
  • Both bitcoin and blockchain have the potential to help financial inclusion, but there have been questions if the technology is there yet. One reason is performance. No public blockchain can match the 1,000 or more transactions per second of real-time domestic payment systems.
  • Not everyone was skeptical of these new financial solutions. Christine Duhaime, founder of the Digital Finance Institute, a Canadian fintech think tank, was all for it. For countries, such as Afghanistan, where exchanging money is dangerous and financial services are limited, bitcoin can be a safer option.

“It allows access to capital for Joe Average on the street, said Christine Duhaime, founder of the Digital Finance Institute. “It could be a farmer, it could be a billionaire – it doesn’t matter. You skip the markets, you skip the infrastructure, you get access to capital.”

Uber’s Credit Card

  • Backed by Barclays bank, Uber’s new no fee credit card adds tracking and rewards directly into the Uber app. Rewards range from such as 4% percent back on dining, 3% on travel, 2% of online purchases and 1% cash back on other transactions.
  • So what’s the catch? Lack of consumer data privacy could be one. Uber has had past issues with tracking unaware customers’ locations with God View.
  • Starting November 2, Uber will give users the option to get the card right in-app or online.

Augmented Reality Shopping  

  • Mastercard showed fashionistas the future of retail complete with an AR-based shopping experience. Shoppers could see digital representations of products through ODG’s sleek smart glasses before purchase and learn about options that are not available in stores.
  • To pay for your new clothes and accessories, Qualcomm’s technology and iris authentication allows users to select a card from their Mastercard Masterpass-enabled wallet to pay. Items could be shipped either to stores or your home for pick-up.