Three industry trends we're expecting to see in 2021

Snoop is a new money saving app launched by a team of former VirginMoney staff. Scott Mowbray (inset

Snoop is a new money saving app launched by a team of former VirginMoney staff. Scott Mowbray (inset) talks us through it. Pictures: Snoop - Credit: Snoop

No one could have predicted the events that unfolded in 2020. 

Buzzwords for the year included furlough, lockdown, and e-commerce. 

But what trends will we see in an equally unpredictable 2021? 

We spoke to some experts to find out what they thought was on the horizon. 

1. Green energy acceleration

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We spoke to Vattenfall which is building its Vanguard windfarm off East Anglia's coast, with its supply chain extending across the region.

A spokesman said: "Now is the time for the ‘green industrial revolution’ to begin.

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"Offshore wind is the key element of government’s and the independent Committee on Climate Change’s blue-print to drastically cut our carbon emissions by 2030, and achieve net zero by 2050.

"We hope East Anglia will share our pride in the Norfolk Vanguard and Norfolk Boreas offshore wind farm projects, which by the late 2020s could deliver enough low carbon electricity for 3.9 million UK homes, and prevent 6 million tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere every year. 

"At the end of this challenging year, which has brought loss and sadness to us, we are reflecting on what we really care about and what matters most to us, our children and future generations.

"We need to be the change for a more sustainable future today, and overcome the barriers holding back green regeneration."

2. FinTech focus on open banking

Scott Mowbray is one of the co-founders of Snoop, a Norwich-based money saving app which has already saved customers across Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and beyond thousands of pounds. 

He said: "Open banking used to be one of the best-kept secrets in financial services. Now, with over two million active monthly users (and counting), it’s set to become the next big thing as more and more people realise the big financial benefits it can bring.

"I think of open banking as connected banking. You can simply and securely connect your bank accounts and credit cards to a regulated third party, like Snoop. In turn, this gives you control over your data, so you can use the third party’s services to save you time and money, based on your personal situation.

Vattenfalls Horns Rev 3 offshore wind farm in the North Sea off Denmark. Image: Vattenfall

Vattenfalls Horns Rev 3 offshore wind farm in the North Sea off Denmark. Image: Vattenfall - Credit: Archant

"With Snoop, customers are not only able to see all their bank accounts in one place and get tailored saving money-saving recommendations based on their spending, but they can also manage all their bills and switch to better deals at exactly the right time, so they never spend more than they need to.

"No longer the best kept secret in banking, whether you’re a consumer looking to make the most of your hard-earned cash or an SME-owner looking to automate financial decision making, you should look to Open Banking for better financial outcomes in 2021 and beyond."

3. More changes on the high street

The death of the high street is a long running narrative – but it is not entirely accurate.

A change of use for the high street is more likely. As brick-and-mortar stores continue to come under pressure from lockdowns and low consumer confidence landlords will inevitably want to see a return on their investment.

Some of the old high street favourites are already shutting up shop, and more are likely to follow.

What will replace them could be new, different – likely smaller – retailers or more experiential businesses. But we also may see a change of use entirely with buildings in town centres and on the high street being converted for residential use, which may go some way toward alleviating the housing crisis.

Ratula Chakraborty, professor of business management at UEA, recently told this newspaper: “Inevitably, if spending on high street retailing continues to decline then more retailers will go bankrupt and more stores will close down.

“Planners urgently need to think about the best alternative uses for boarded up retail space, because the popularity of high street retailing is unlikely to return once consumers start preferring online purchasing.

“A change of use to more residential and experienced-based uses would make good sense and help to maintain the economic viability, vitality and vibrancy of city and town centres.”

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