Cost of dying falls in Brexit Britain

Shares in Britain’s biggest listed funeral services company, Dignity, lost almost half their value on Friday as it warned families were becoming increasingly “cost-conscious.” (Reuters)
Updated 19 January 2018
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Cost of dying falls in Brexit Britain

LONDON: From the cost of carpets to coffins, Brexit Britain is spooking consumers.

Shares in Britain’s biggest listed funeral services company, Dignity, lost almost half their value on Friday as it warned families were becoming increasingly “cost-conscious.”

But it is not all bad news for the beleaguered British consumer.

The uncertainty created by the country’s exit from Europe is at least making the cost of exiting this world for the next, more affordable.

Dignity is slashing the cost of its basic funeral by 25 percent with immediate effect while it is also planning a price freeze for its traditional funerals in most locations, its said on Friday.

Carpetright shareholders were in similarly funereal mood as they too watched about half the value of their shares wiped as the London market opened.

A slew of profit warnings from the British High Street, and now it seems, also the crematorium, reflect growing caution among British consumers over the direction of the economy as the country prepares to leave the EU.

Dignity warned its 2018 results would be substantially below market expectations as it cut some of its prices. That sent its stock tumbling by about 49 percent by 9:30 a.m. in London.

Meanwhile Carpetright’s profit warning wiped about £54 million ($75 million) from its market capitalization.

“The number of customer transactions since Christmas was sharply down, which we believe is indicative of reduced consumer confidence,” said Carpetright CEO Wilf Walsh.

Both Carpetright and Dignity are the latest in a long line of retailers that have warned on profits in recent weeks — leading to heavily discounting.

That trend has now extended to the cost of a funeral which Dignity said would be reduced with immediate effect to £1,995 (plus disbursements) in England and Wales.


Meet the Dubai ad men who pay you to sit in traffic

Updated 20 August 2018
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Meet the Dubai ad men who pay you to sit in traffic

  • Blockchain technology challenges traditional outdoor media
  • Adverts connect to driver mobile phone

LONDON: A new startup founded by UAE-based entrepreneurs is in the process of test-running a blockchain-based technology that could help people turn their cars into mobile advertising vehicles.
It could challenge the use of traditional advertising methods such as outdoor billboards, the founders of The Elo Network claim.
The platform — which has been set up by Mohammed Khammas and Mohammed Bafaqih and incorporated in the Cayman Islands — will enable people to be paid for displaying adverts on the side or back of their vehicles while they go about their daily routines of driving to work, the mall or doing the school run.
The adverts will feature low-frequency bluetooth ‘beacons’ that connect to the drivers' mobile phone which will be able to monitor when the driver is in the car and where the car is being driven.
There is a minimum threshold for the number of miles being driven a day, but the main prerequisite is that the driver is in the car. Drivers will still be paid even if stuck in a traffic jam.
Advertising clients will be able to put out requests that drivers head to a particular area — for instance to be close to a new brand launch — with drivers being paid up to 4 or 5 times more than their standard rate if they accept.
While the concept of paying people to use their cars for advertising is not new, it is the use of blockchain technology that will make The Elo Network particularly grounding-breaking in the advertising world, its founders said.
“Billboards are very expensive and static and don’t give you the KPIs and insightful information that brands want these days. You solve that by getting them that data,” Bafaqih said.
The Elo Network collates detailed data by tracking the movements of the drivers and their day-to-day activities. Data points such as a particular area’s population density can been collected.
The information will be encrypted ensuring that the brand will never know the identity of the driver, said Bafaqih.
“It creates data sets that didn’t exist before. You don’t have to worry about privacy but at the same time the brand can know about your patterns. They can know where you go in mornings, where you drive, what normal patterns are created in certain areas and countries,” he said.
This level of detail is increasingly important for brands looking to run targeted campaigns, and it is something that traditional billboards are unable to offer.
The technology will also be used to overcome the payment problems that other similar car advertising schemes have faced.
“Historically what happens, where there is a authority that is issuing payments, it causes a lot of problems. There can be disputes on how much they (the drivers) are owed or how many miles were driven or what campaign someone has done,” he said.
Under the Elo Network program, the blockchain technology allows you to create so-called “Smart Contracts” — which is a software protocol that enforces and verifies the performance of a contract.
“It says driver A is going to be paid — for example — a dollar per mile — so as the person drives he starts receives ‘IOUs’. Those IOUs are convertible at any time,” he said.
With no ‘middle man’ involved, the driver is able to redeem their IOUs and get paid as and when they want.
The network is currently at ‘proof of concept’ stage and is test-running the platform with a number of brands. It is anticipated that the network will be rolled out to the public toward the end of this year and early 2019.