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Paul Kemp-Robertson

Co-Founder & Editorial Director / Contagious, Contagious Communications

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Are people starting to trust brands and corporations more than governments?

Technology has reconfigured the mechanics of the traditional business landscape, changing what we buy and how we pay for it. Peer-to-peer systems like AirBnB and TaskRabbit encourage people to swap, share and rent amongst themselves rather than buy from stores. Concurrent with the growth in collaborative consumption is the emergence of a new understanding of 'money'. The limits of traditional monetary units are being tested against a backdrop of financial uncertainty, currency volatility and technological progress. People are coming to realise that their data, everyday activities and social chatter are alternative forms of value and payment. Slowly, we're seeing new micro- and crypto-economies being forged that aren't necessarily based on a traditional understanding of cash.

Surveys such as the Edelman Trust barometer suggest that there is a global weakening of trust in institutions and governments, If people are starting to trust businesses and brands more than their civic leaders, should we be questioning whether governments need to be in sole charge of money any more? In 1860 there were 1600 varieties of currency in America. Are brands hoping that history will start repeating itself? In a digital age, are loyalty programs becoming new forms of currency? Will people start to demand commodities (products and services) from brands in exchange for access to their personal data and consumption patterns? Are mobile phone credits more useful to modern consumers than loose change from a shopkeeper?

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  • Jul 27 2013: Trust is earned. Who has earned it?

    Who must earn it by necessity?

    That would be organizations that 1) do not have a monopoly, 2) deliver products of a quality that a discerning customer can detect after a short period of use, and 3) must have repeat sales, or word of mouth sales to survive.

    The differentiation of the 50 United States allows governments to compete. So state governments have a chance at competing to earn trust.

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