Digital Transformation In The Education Industry: E-Learning Revolution
Nov 6, 2020
Just like many other traditional industries, education has been shifting to a digital-first dimension for quite a while. Seemingly approaching its pinnacle since COVID, digital transformation in the education industry is only picking up speed right now, and we can watch an actual e-learning revolution happen right in front of our eyes.
How big is the progress so far and what opportunities are there in the e-learning niche? Let’s find it out.
This year’s contact limitations didn’t allow many options for schools but to rethink the standard model of knowledge distribution and adapt to the challenges of the new world. Remote schooling has become the new norm on all levels – from early education and tutoring to higher education, professional growth courses, and non-academic training.
Naturally, such a great demand requires a lot more than an outstanding supply of hardware. This is less of a problem since most households and learning facilities in the developed countries have access to a wide range of tech. The real challenge is to develop appropriate software tools allowing schools and students to fulfill regular activities without sacrificing education quality.
The e-learning revolution
Speaking about the types of digital solutions helping students learn at distance – the list is virtually bottomless.
Right now we’re seeing major efforts at improving web classes, automating student and work assessment, and digitalizing course materials via smart textbooks, rich video content, slide show presentations, and much more. In this regard, Kognity and Lix Technologies are two startups leading the race at the moment.
Secondly, improving general education accessibility and support within the sector, especially for college and university students, is another major focus point right now, with Graduway and Teacherly delivering some great results already.
Various administrative tools for conducting the educational process online are also being developed lately. They include digitalized school payments and fee collection software, student attendance tracking, and education monitoring applications. And don’t forget about language adaptation and designing a new learning model for students with limited abilities.
Meanwhile, the task of digitalizing is rather simplified for adult and post-degree learning – where online courses have already been adopted well before the pandemic.
All this being the case, digital learning remains unsaturated product-wise, as the demand for niche solutions exceeds the current market supply.
Edtech investments and initiatives
Given the timing of COVID and further uncertainty about quarantines and travel restrictions – entrepreneurs see a high time to put both their time and resources into the development of edtech businesses and startups.
Right now, the UK remains the largest hub when it comes to digital transformation in the education industry, receiving almost 40% of Europe’s investments in the sector.
Speaking of which…
While businesses are the main drivers of progress in edTech adoption, governments also play a part in the process. In this regard, Estonia’s legislators show a good example by not only supporting internal edtech market but freely sharing the developed tools and technologies with the rest of the world.
Notably, a lot of digital education initiatives are occurring in third-world countries, where the pandemic has hit the already crisis-affected regions.
Like that, international humanitarian organizations and private foundations are backing versatile tech solutions in cooperation with ministries of education. Right now they are helping students and families in places like Sudan, Uganda, Lebanon, Jordan, Chad, Bangladesh, as well as Kenya, and multiple African countries access affordable education and continue learning.
The global education system is undergoing a major transformation on all levels. Both schools and universities, as well as non-academic educational institutions, are switching to a digital-first approach. This means an increased demand for niche software development and technology maintenance.
Online learning is becoming the new norm, and the trend does not seem to be reversing anytime soon. Therefore, investing in custom e-learning solutions is decisively a winning business move right now.
Digital Transformation In Real Estate: Trends And IT Solutions
Oct 7, 2020
Unlike many other industries, real estate is booming in 2020/2021 and so is digital transformation within the industry.
As the pandemic hit businesses of all types, immovables seem to be the bullet-proof asset everyone is looking for in turbulent times. The real estate market is on fire, but the competition is fierce, too, so poor acquisition choices or property mismanagement can be financially fatal.
Now, what can resolve such issues better than software?
Real estate software development and IT services
Technology has helped to overcome challenges in almost every sphere of life, and real estate management is not an exception. More so, custom software has already proven to be a golden goose for the industry.
Here’s who can benefit from custom property management solutions:
Real estate agencies
Private and corporate facility owners
Landlords and tenants
Now, let’s look into what we can offer to each of these groups.
1. Real estate agents and agencies
Before anyone else, it’s real estate agencies and individual realtors who can benefit from custom digital products. Whether it’s a single-page business card or a fully-fledged digital platform with CRMs and admin dashboards – building up a strong online presence is the right move.
Here are some of the products and services businesses usually look for:
Web and mobile apps for realtors and agencies
Customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing tools
Facility search and listings
Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and IDX integrations
Accounting and document turnover
2. Private and corporate facility owners
Managing property is not an easy task both in the private and corporate sectors. Especially owning multiple homes or offices, apartment buildings, warehouse spaces, etc – things get pretty messy without effective management.
For businesses with many locations (like food chains, hotels & resorts, fitness clubs, multi-office companies) – having the following may be a lifesaver:
Utility billing and energy management tools
Accounting and financial integration
Document turnover software
Customized reporting and data analytics
Maintenance work oversight
3. Landlords and tenants
Selling and buying property is just the tip of the Real Estate iceberg.
Another big chunk of the industry is renting & lease, which is even more intense and than trade.
Landlords and tenants know it’s not easy to find a good place to stay at – on one side, and a reliable person or business to trust your property to – on the other.
Here’s how landlords and tenants can benefit from custom real estate software development:
Applicants screening tools and lease management
Accounting and document management
Online payment functionalities
Reliable communication channels
Maintenance work oversight
4. Real estate startups
Given the state of the real estate industry, it does not take a college degree to see that it’s high time to occupy a niche in the industry. RE aggregators are gaining momentum but are usually limited to a particular city or area. Therefore, there’s plenty of opportunities to leverage the current market rise and find your spot under the sun while helping others find theirs.
So, startups and individual entrepreneurs are another large group of clients looking for digital products in the real estate industry. Here are some of the popular options:
Custom web and mobile apps
Property management software
Accounting and financial integration
Real estate data analytics
Disruptive innovation in real estate
Apart from everything mentioned above, it is possible to develop or integrate an AI-powered solution predicting property price fluctuations and investment potential (similar to one of our fintech projects – OxfordRisk).
The algorithm works based on evaluating key facility metrics like location and area, property type, and previously recorded trade prices. It then compares it against the market’s big data, estimating the property’s value over time.
Not only does it help to understand a property’s actual price and investment potential, but also to predict the best deal moment.
Real estate is booming worldwide.
Whether you own property, manage facilities, invest in real estate, or help others do the above-mentioned – there are great challenges and opportunities on the way.
Successfully meeting the first and seizing the second requires proactive action and leveraging the power of technology.
Want to learn more about digital opportunities in real estate right now? Contact us to ask any questions!
MintyMint’s Software Development Workflow: Best Practices
Sep 24, 2020
Every IT team has its own ways when it comes to producing software. And while some of the main dev tools and techniques are common across the industry, it’s the details that make all the difference.
So, it wouldn’t hurt to explore MintyMint’s software development workflow before you choose us as your outsourcing partner.
Business cooperation models
When it comes to the software development workflow, we must define the three main types of cooperation we offer:
a. Dedicated software team
Need a ready team of experts to work on a project under your supervision?
Hire a dedicated team!
In this case, you outline project goals and we provide a team of skilled devs working on it full-time. You may determine your role in the development process – from direct team management (set tasks and deadlines) to brief supervision of the key milestones. This gives you the right amount of leverage over the dev process while taking all the executive headaches away, without compromising end-product quality.
This option will make it for startups and SMBs with a tech-savvy management and a clear product vision, but no tech team.
The key benefits of hiring a dedicated team with MintyMint are the following:
Predictable and fixed budget;
Full-time access to dedicated experts focused on your product and business goals;
PM and QA engineer services free of charge.
b. Resource staffing services
Moving on to resource staffing (aka team extension). This type of partnership is great for scaleups and existing teams that need additional resources to fulfill a temporary task or take on a particular responsibility within the project.
Externalizing workloads is not just a good move budget-wise. It also alleviates the pressure from your core team (so they can focus on high-priority tasks and challenges) and lifts the burdens of the recruitment process and employee management, which are on us.
Like that, we provide IT experts and take care of HR management and paperwork. Meanwhile, you can focus on essential project tasks and processes.
Here are the main benefits of backing up your team with MintyMint experts:
Full control over team member management;
Always available specialists to fulfill urgent tasks;
Easy recruitment, HR, and paperwork.
c. Turnkey project development
Last but not least, you can always order a complete, turnkey project. For startups and entrepreneurs without extensive IT product building experience, as well as a wide range of SMBs – this is probably the best bet.
In general, it’s a go-to choice for anyone who doesn’t want to deal with process management but does need tangible results.
When ordering a turnkey project, you provide a general product vision and give continuous feedback along the production process. Meanwhile, our team returns a fully tested and release-ready product within the agreed timeframe. Like this, you get a full-cycle project development service where you only pay for results.
The main advantages of ordering a turnkey project from MintyMint are:
You pay for a ready product (fixed price);
We take care of production and associated risks;
Less management as compared to other cooperation models.
IT project development stages
When it comes to the very IT development workflow, our typical project consists of three main stages.
1. Discovery and Planning
This is the first stage in any project. Here we transform a client’s idea into a product concept with a clear design and measurable characteristics.
The discovery and planning stage is there to:
Set the main business goals and needs;
Investigate potential problems, risks, and solutions;
Determine the product’s key user value;
Develop the client image;
Outline the main product features and details;
Create a value chain map with modules, streams, and use cases.
All of this allows us to make a project estimate with a detailed roadmap that includes the scope and time of work, key milestones, and deadlines.
2. Development and Implementation
After a project’s roadmap is outlined, the actual “development” begins.
Our design team creates a UX/UI brand book with elaborate visual materials and nuanced user experiences based on market research and trends.
Meanwhile, our coding department implements the actual back-end and front-end functionalities of the product.
This stage allows to:
Develop the product’s prototype;
Create a holistic brand image;
Develop the program functionalities of the product;
Create and support the database;
Conduct initial product testing.
3. Releasing and Maintenance
Once the product is developed and tested, it is ready for release and subsequent maintenance.
At this point, our team prepares technical documentation and transfers the product from the development environment to the public internet.
This stage includes:
Preparation for the release;
Publishing the product on public sites;
Subsequent product maintenance and monitoring;
Frankly speaking, it is the end of the project’s lifecycle. That said, this stage is a continuous process and our experts remain in touch to resolve any technical issues.
Software development team management
Our project manager is always there to help you at every stage of the production journey.
We know that any project or task has an individual set of requirements in terms of daily team collaboration, planning, and execution – which requires an appropriate management approach to ensure smooth software development.
At MintyMint, we have found the following management practices to be the best for us and our clients:
A linear management methodology, it implies a detailed project roadmap with consecutive work stages that follow one another in a strict order.
Clear end-product vision;
Defined scope of work;
Continuous development process;
Strict project timeframe.
Scrum is an agile project management approach. It implies dividing the work into iterative stages called “sprints”, where the progress is constantly updated and reevaluated at online meetings.
Scrum is best used for:
Big and complex projects;
Increased client engagement;
Gradual development process;
Continuous progress review.
A lean management model that revolves around balancing project priorities and team capacities. Kanban offers visualized process oversight via the Kanban board and allows to avoid bottlenecks and reduce both technical debt and WIP (work in progress).
Kanban is good for:
Flexible development process;
Custom software development process
Depending on the client’s needs and setup, it is possible to combine different project management practices for greater productivity and customer satisfaction.
Technology and expertise
As for the technology in the arsenal of our IT experts – there are really no boundaries. Our software specialists’ combined experience and skillsets are versatile enough to adjust to every client’s specific needs.
Some of the technologies we often work with include:
Now that you know every nuance of our team’s software development workflow, you can see whether it fits in with your current goals and needs.
Naturally, every project requires a unique approach. So, if you have any questions regarding how MintyMint can help you fulfill your IT goals – feel free to reach out!
Contactless payments: spike during COVID-19 and future
Apr 4, 2020
Spike of popularity among contactless payment during Coronavirus pandemic
Coronavirus poses a huge threat to the economies and populations of all countries in the world. One of the sources of the virus’s spread is cash, which carries a huge amount of bacteria. ATMs with cash-recycling functions become a channel of disease transmission. A way out of it is making contactless payments, which allow you to pay instantly and avoid endangering yourself.
Even the World Health Organization recommends ditching cash in favor of contactless payments to prevent the spread of COVID-19. WHO issued this recommendation after China and Korea began separating and disinfecting used banknotes known to carry viruses and bacteria.
A representative of the World Health Organization noted in a recent interview with The Telegraph:
“We know that money often passes from hand to hand and can collect all kinds of bacteria and viruses. We advise people to wash their hands after handling banknotes and try not to touch their face. Wherever possible, it is advisable to use contactless payments to reduce the risk of the infection spreading.”
When will the economy recover?
Opinions vary greatly on how slow the global economy will grow.
The conclusion of the American Institute of International Finance looks quite pessimistic. IIF estimates the global economy to grow by a maximum of 1% in 2020 – the lowest since the 2007-2008 crisis. In China – the source of the virus – GDP growth will slow to 4% instead of the previously expected 5.9%.
Consulting company McKinsey&Company has outlined three scenarios of crisis development.
The softest scenario is the elimination of coronavirus outbreaks up to the second quarter of 2020. In this case, the global GDP will grow by about 2% instead of 2.5%. If the pandemic persists beyond the first half of the year, global economic growth will not exceed 1.5%. In case the pandemic continues to the second or third quarter, global GDP could fall by 1.5%.
So, how can you help the world? One of the options is by using contactless payments. A safe way of using money, its popularity is increasing tenfold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
How does the technology work?
In most cases, contactless payments are enabled by NFC chips that are found in most modern smartphones and tablets, as well as in many smartwatches and smart bracelets. These chips can transfer encrypted data from a customer’s bank card to another chip, for example, in a POS terminal at a store. The data exchange takes 1-2 seconds, followed by a successful payment.
The contactless connection between the devices is conducted via radio signal (Radio Frequency Identification technology). NFC-chip uses a special radio frequency (13.56 MHz), which works only if the devices are close to each other.
There are two main options for using NFC technology in retail payments:
The first way is payments by banking cards supporting contactless technologies (for example, MasterCard PayPass/ Visa PayWave).
The second way, which is gaining popularity, is by mobile devices through paying services (Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay).
To use a smartphone as a contactless payment tool, you need to tie a banking card to your smartphone using a special application. At this stage, the app generates and stores an encrypted “key” (token). After that, you can pay with your smartphone without using the card.
Contactless payment is becoming more and more entrenched in mobile devices. Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is already available in Apple, Samsung, and other mobile devices. In addition to NFC, Samsung has introduced magnetic security transfer (MST) technology for smartphones to interact with terminals that accept magnetic stripe cards.
Wearable devices also influence contactless payments. Some of the leading tech companies like Apple and Samsung produce watches with an embedded NFC chip. Traditional watchmakers, like Mondaine and Swatch, are also keeping up.
Now NFC technology is not only extremely convenient.
Contactless payments offer settlements security provided by the global digital tokenization platform Mastercard Digital Enablement Service (MDES). MDES allows turning any device with an NFC chip and an Internet connection into a secure payment tool, through creating a unique token to protect transactions. A token is a 16-digit combination tied to a user’s bank card number, which is unique for each connected device.
Tokenized payments hide bank card details. To verify the payer by the bank during the payment process Mastercard transforms the token into the card number.
Benefits of Contactless Payments
The main advantages of using contactless payments:
Protection from COVID-19. Using contactless payments you avoid contact with things (money) that potentially can be infected with the coronavirus.
Simplicity. One-touch purchase payment without pin code and signature. You need less time to pay for the purchase.
Quick. Payment using contactless technology occurs almost instantly. This saves time for the client and makes the work of the cashier more effective.
It’s an innovation. The most modern payment technology. If a business uses contactless payment – it gains respect from customers.
But how contactless payments affect business and economy? What are the examples of successful implementation of contactless payment technology?
Here’s a map of the contactless payment limits in various parts of the world:
In 2016, eCommerce giant Amazon launched a new type of Amazon Go offline store in Seattle – with no cash registers or cashiers. In there, buyers just pick up the products and leave the store, and payments are done automatically, contactless, and discreetly.
The company combines RFID (radio frequency identification technology) with smart video cameras. The system records when a customer takes an item off the shelf, while video cameras locate the customer inside the store. Combined data analysis allows the system to identify who took which items and record it in a shopping list in the Amazon mobile app.
This approach allows customers to perform a reverse operation, return a product to the shelf and thus automatically exclude it from the virtual shopping basket. Products can be carried out in pockets or hands. Once a person goes through the turnstiles, the money is automatically deducted from his Amazon account.
Amazon Go, where the whole process of shopping (from selection to payment) is carried out by the buyer, brings 50% more profit than traditional stores.
The company is developing a new payment method that will allow consumers to pay for their purchases using the palm of their hand, without using a bank card.
Amazon had filed a patent for a “contactless biometric identification system” with a palm scanner. The tech giant is developing this project together with Visa and Mastercard. Major banking institutions, like JPMorgan and Wells Fargo, are also taking part in its development.
The company plans to offer customers an opportunity to tie the data of a bank card to their palms. This would allow them to make a purchase with one touch, without using “plastic”. Also, the company plans to introduce such payment in the supermarket chain “Whole Foods”. Clearly, Amazon is the leading contactless payment developing company in the world.
Contactless payments are becoming part of the “on-demand economy”. Taxi applications such as Uber, Bolt, Gett can be used for reference. These services allow users to tie a card to a mobile application once and then automatically pay for their trips without touching neither cash nor the interface of the application itself.
Besides mobile platforms, functions of contactless payments are available both on social networks (Facebook, Twitter) and messengers like Telegram, WhatsApp, and Viber.
Over the next decade, we will see more changes in the banking industry than in the last 100 years. KPMG Global’s research “The Future of Digital Banking” confirms that technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Biometrics, 5G, AR/VR will have the greatest impact on the financial services industry in the next 10-15 years. So, voice command and biometrics can replace contactless payments pretty soon. Thanks to the “Internet of Things”, any device can become a digital channel for paying for goods and services.
Examples of successful implementation of contactless payments into banking systems are Monobank, Revolut, N26. All these banks are mobile, they have no offices, but are incredibly popular. Of course, among youth mostly.
These banks are actively competing with each other.
For example, N26 is one of the most highly regarded startups in the world. Revolut has attracted more than $350 million in investments for its development, valued at over $2 billion. Monobank reached the mark of 2 million users in just 3 years – an impressive result.
Effect on business and economy
The sphere of contactless payments is huge and is backed by eCommerce companies, blockchain platforms, mobile developers, financial projects, banks, and even companies specializing in passenger transportation.
The rapid development of mobile technologies and contactless payments is creating a new model of user behavior. This behavior model prefers the active use of smartphones, contactless payments and various connected devices in everyday life.
Banks that do not think about the development of contactless payments may lose both clients and time in the future.
One of the main factors that stimulate the development of contactless payments in the world is the desire to lead innovation. Contactless technologies are a sign of the modernity of banks and businesses.
The future of contactless payments
Many countries have already adopted cashless technology. Some experts even compare the number of NFC payments a country has to its economic potential. Although cash payments are still prevalent in developing countries, high-population states like China, India, Brazil, and the USA are already entering a contactless future.
According to Business Insider, the flagship for developing countries is China with its unique payment technology integrated into a local social network – WeChat. This subsidiary of China’s giant Tencent is a mix of services, one of which is WeChat Pay, a contactless payment system for more than 1 billion users. It allows sending money directly from one smartphone to another within the app, furtherly boosting the commercial boom in China.
According to the Merchant Savvy web service too, China dominates in contactless payment development. In February 2019, 1 out of 9 people on the planet used Chinese payment systems to send and receive cash during the Chinese New Year.
In the US and Europe, card payments are still more popular than mobile payments. There are various reasons for this, but among the main ones are conservatism, as well as firmness of the authority of EMV chip cards, which are very popular among middle-class people.
Contactless payments are the future of money transfers. The coronavirus outbreak and its worldwide spread significantly increase the popularity of contactless payments because cash is transmitting COVID-19. Contactless payments are the best way to prevent the spreading of COVID-19.
Contactless payments are a very convenient way to transfer money. The business actively implements new technologies in its own work and increases NFC popularity. The cases described in this article demonstrate the potential for spreading contactless payments in the world.