The Comtec Blog
Follow the latest trends in international business, learn more about the managing your brand abroad and the technology available to help companies communicate globally via our blog.
Calling all businesses – get ready for the Mobile Wallet revolution
This could be the future of payments for your clients. In fact, in many places it’s already arrived.
KFC has just become the latest big company to support mobile wallet payments in its UK stores, joining the likes of McDonald’s and Starbucks. The latter is also introducing the technology in its 7,000 American outlets. Carrefour, the second largest retailer in the world by sales figures, has already implemented mobile payment systems in its French stores.
What is a mobile wallet?
It’s a method of paying for goods using a smartphone. Payments can be made remotely, via text message or by tapping the phone against an in-store terminal.
And while the idea is relatively new in some markets, in others it has already made a big impact. Perhaps most surprisingly, mobile wallets have really taken off in developing countries; mainly due to a lack of desktop access to the internet and online banking.
Kenyan women now worry less about being mugged for money
Since 2007, Kenya has experienced something of a mobile wallet revolution. Despite many not having a bank account, 50% of the adult population uses a mobile wallet. Users pay cash at a shop, have it loaded onto their phone and can then send money via a text message to pay for bills, items in shops or to send money to other mobile wallet users. Not only is the system simple but it has helped remove mugging worries for many people who no longer have to carry cash around.
Haiti is one of the leaders of Mobile Wallet systems
Even though Haiti is one of the poorest countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, it has one of the most successful mobile wallet systems in the world – despite mobile phone penetration of just 35-40%.
In its first year, the mobile wallet attracted 10% of the adult population – a figure that, on average, takes most markets four years to achieve. In fact the 800,000 users made almost 10 million transactions in that one year alone.
Global growth of the Mobile Wallet
This budding concept is expected to have a similar effect in other countries, with the global mobile wallet market predicted to reach USD 1,602.4 billion by 2018, growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 30.7% from 2012 to 2018 (Transparency Market Research).
Potential benefits of Mobile Wallet systems for businesses:
• Automatically collecting purchase data
• Monitoring individual customer purchasing habits
• Building customer profiles
• Developing targeted promotions
• Assessing the success of promotional strategies
• Providing customers with convenience
• Remaining at the forefront of payment technologies
If you’re keen for your company to stay ahead of its competitors it might be time to look into mobile wallet technology. Because even if you customers aren’t yet using mobile wallets, the chances are they soon will be.
Comtec is here to help companies talk global business by providing a range of language and translation services. For further information please contact a member of our customer services team on +44 (0) 1926 3335 681 or email email@example.com.
10 languages on the verge of extinction
Every week another language disappears for good. If nothing is done about it, around half of the almost 7,000 languages spoken today will be extinct by the end of the century.
As each language dies, so does a huge part of our world’s history. Not just words and sentences, but songs, stories and jokes; never to be spoken or heard again.
10 languages about to be lost forever:
1. Korana (South Africa)
A shining example of a language on the verge of extinction, last year Korana was listed as having just one speaker.
2. Tehuelche (Argentina)
With just three native speakers, the language of Tehuelche is considered critically endangered.
3. Achumawi (USA)
With fewer than 10 native elderly speakers, this language will soon be extinct. A programme was set up the 1980s to try to maintain the language, but this is no longer in operation.
4. Zaramo (Tanzania)
Only a few elderly speakers still communicate using Zaramo.
5. Kardofanian (Kenya)
This severely endangered language is still spoken by around 50 people.
6. Gardiol (Italy)
With only around 300 native speakers of grandparent-age, this language is severely endangered.
7. Poitevin (France)
Only a few elderly speakers use Poitevin and numbers are decreasing rapidly, with even the most competent speakers likely to be heavily influenced by French.
8. Irantxe (Brazil)
One of many severely endangered languages in Brazil, Irantxe is thought to have fewer than 90 native speakers remaining.
9. Michif (Canada)
The endangered language of Michif has fewer than 200 native speakers, nearly all of whom are over 70 years old.
10. Cornish (UK)
Believe it or not, Cornish has been extinct several times but has been relearnt and now has around 600 speakers, showing that it is possible for a language to be revived.
Why do languages die?
As the world becomes more globalised and people move on from traditional ways of life, the dominant languages win over smaller ones. An environment that respects multilingualism can allow smaller languages to survive, and enable a wealth of cultural information and ancestral knowledge to continue to be passed on to future generations.
If you have any questions regarding translation services, or would like assistance from Comtec’s language and cultural experts, please contact a member of our team on + 44 (0) 1926 335 681 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The import-ance of tea
How tea has helped shape the business of global trade
Did you know that tea was discovered by accident? And that this accidental discovery has played a key role in the development of international business links?
Legend has it that in 2737 B.C. Chinese Emperor, Shan Nong, was visiting a distant region and drinking his usual cup of boiled water when a few tea leaves landed in his cup. He found the drink to be so energising that he immediately ordered for tea bushes to be planted in the gardens of the palace where he lived.
Faster sail boats, technical advances - all thanks of tea
Tea arrived in Europe in the early 17th century via Dutch and Portuguese sailors. It was sold at auctions in Britain and Holland, but could only be afforded by the wealthy. Even so, tea was a key factor in establishing early international trade connections between the east and west. It even led to a number of technological developments such as faster sail boats – designed to speed up the deliveries of tea from China to Europe.
The most important trade item for Britain
As import volumes increased and British companies were established for the sole purpose of importing tea, it eventually became cheaper and could finally be enjoyed by the masses. In fact, tea drinking became so popular that it soon became Britain’s most important trade item from China.
These days the company Unilever leads global sales of tea – with retail values around four times that of its nearest competitor. Asia Pacific and Eastern Europe are the main drivers of the company’s growth, jointly making up 66% of its worldwide growth in 2011-12 (Euromonitor International).
There are currently no signs of tea losing its popularity, with around 165 million cups of tea consumed every day in Britain alone.
Some inTEAresting facts:
• Sri Lanka is the biggest exporter of tea (FAO Statistical Yearbook)
• The Russian Federation is the biggest importer of tea (FAO Statistical Yearbook)
• China produces the world’s largest variety of fine quality teas (Global Tea Brokers)
• The Republic of Ireland is the nation which drinks the most tea per capita, followed by Britain (United Kingdom Tea Council)
How many different alphabets are in use around the world?
Did you know the alphabet we use in the UK today – the Latin, or Roman alphabet – is the most widely used writing system in the world? It dates back to around 1100BC and is used by around 100 different languages and roughly two billion people. But it’s not the only alphabet in existence.
There are actually around 46 different alphabets in use today.
Some widely used ones include Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Bengali, Burmese, Chinese script, Cyrillic, Devanagari, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese script, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Latin, Sinhala, Thai and Tibetan.
While a ‘true’ alphabet is one which uses both consonants and vowels, other writing systems have no vowels at all, or indicate vowels using a diacritic mark.
A – Amharic, Arabic and Armenian alphabets
B – Bengali and Burmese alphabets
C – Chinese script has symbols to represent the whole word or idea
D – Devanagari uses symbols to represent syllables instead of sounds
E - Everyday, about 2 billion people use the Latin and Roman alphabet
F – Fictional alphabets total 25 from books and films etc.
G – Georgian and Greek alphabets
H – the Hobbit, & Lord of the Rings have their own alphabets created by JRR Tolkien
I – International Phonetic Alphabet
J – Japanese alphabet includes the kanji character set with the hiragana and katakana scripts
K – Khmer and Korean alphabet
L – Latin and Lao alphabet
M – Morse code
N – No vowels in some alphabets, but they’re sometimes indicated by using diacritic marks
O – One Hundred languages use the Roman or Latin alphabet making it the popular
P – Papyrus was commonly used for the Egyptians to draw Hieroglyphics
Q – Quantities of Daggers in various positions make up the ‘Daggers’ alphabet
R – Roman or Latin alphabet dates back to 1100BC
S – Sinhala and Semaphore are both forms of communication
T – Tibetan alphabet
U – Used alphabets around the world total 46
V – Vowels and consonants make up ‘true’ alphabets, while others use markings
W – Witches alphabet is called Theban and is used to write spells
X – ‘X’ is a classic example of a letter that is also used as a symbol - ‘X marks the spot’
Y –Yi is part of the Chinese family of scripts
Z – Zhuang alphabet
Alphabets come in all shapes and sizes, literally
Some alphabets bear no resemblance whatsoever to the one we are familiar with. One such example is the Indian Devanagari alphabet which uses symbols to represent syllables instead of sounds. And the Chinese script has symbols representing a whole word or idea.
Other writing systems around the world include the international phonetic alphabet, syllabic alphabets and communication systems such as the Morse code and semaphore.
Magical alphabets used by witches
Interestingly, there are also several ‘magical’ alphabets, including the Theban alphabet which is used by witches to write spells and ‘Daggers’, which is literally made up of images of daggers in different quantities and positions. This is also apparently used for magical purposes.
25 fictional alphabets
There are also over 25 fictional alphabets around the world that have been created for books, films and computer games. You may already be familiar with Tolkien’s Scripts, invented by JRR Tolkien for his novels The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.
While all of these alphabets and writing systems may look to be very different, they all have one important thing in common – they help us to communicate. And without them we’d literally be lost for words.
Speak the language of business and see how far it can take you
There’s no mistaking that getting your business over the language hurdle will help your message be heard overseas. So when you decide to learn a new language in business, which one of 6,800 spoken languages do you choose? As always, we’ve got some great insights and stats to help you make that decision…
Which of the 6,800 languages are right for your business?
This depends on a lot of factors, such as the markets you intend to target, the industry in which you operate and the extent to which you’re prepared to be challenged (some languages are much harder to learn than others!). It’s also worth considering which languages are the most widely used among the global business community.
Mandarin, for example, is one of the fastest growing languages. Currently over a billion people speak Mandarin (in China and other countries) and it is becoming extremely popular as a second language, especially amongst business people.
Russian is another language experiencing a surge in popularity; and considering that Russia is the UK’s fastest growing export market, this could be a good choice for UK business people.
The 9 languages businesses find most useful
A survey of UK firms carried out by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in 2012 discovered that the languages rated by managers as most useful to their business were:
1. German (50% of respondents)
2. French (49%)
3. Spanish (37%)
4. Mandarin (25%)
5. Polish (19%) and Arabic (19%)
6. Cantonese (12%)
7. Russian (11%) and Japanese (11%)
8. Portuguese (6%)
9. South Korean (3%)
Pick me! Pick me! Which languages are growing fastest and are the most popular?
With the growth of the global online marketplace it is also worth noting which languages are most commonly used online. Recent research from the Common Sense Advisory found that Chinese (513 million online users) had overtaken English (489 million), with Spanish coming in third (over 200 million). Other languages with a strong online presence include Japanese, German and Portuguese, while Arabic is the fastest growing internet language, with 150 million online speakers predicted by the end of 2015.
Whichever language you choose to learn, the addition of foreign language skills to your organisation is sure to help put your business firmly on the world map.
Comtec supports businesses with expansion overseas by providing a full range of language translation and interpreting services. Covering a wide range of requirements, from translation of websites and marketing material for print, to translation of technical manuals and training content, Comtec provides a high quality service covering over 150 languages.
If you have any questions regarding translation or localisation, or would like support in developing an effective communications plan to break into new markets, please contact a member of our team on + 44 (0) 1926 335 681 or email email@example.com
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