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Haven’t an Iota About Fintech Localization? Try Cryptocurrencies

Localization, Localization Technology

Money, Money, Money Meets Its Waterloo

Apologies to ABBA fans about the cheesy introduction. But, mamma mia we need to talk about cryptocurrencies!

Lattés with your Litecoin? Crypto Café in Dublin, accepts cryptocurrencies and hard cash. (Image: Ultan Ó Broin)

Lattés with your Litecoin? Crypto Café in Dublin, Ireland accepts cryptocurrencies and hard cash. (Image: Ultan Ó Broin)

The Chips Are Down For Fintech

I enjoyed a must-read Medium article from Graham Rigby of Iota Localisation Services about the challenges of Fintech localization. Graham talks about how Fintech localization is different from ERP financial or vertical banking localization. He also tells us how a changing business environment means localization providers need to be agile, collaborative, and flexible:

“The way financial products are sold, communicated, and presented in the current market mean that linguists who have spent 20 years translating mortgage terms might not be best equipped to deal with the style and nuance of the text in a money transfer app.”

Indeed, the very notion of a “bank” itself has changed: Deutsche Bank in Berlin is now into Kaffee und Kuchen for the hip and happening people of the Hauptstadt.  ImaginBank from Spain is aimed at snombies, sorry, I mean the mobile generation.

And now, cryptocurrency localization is upon us, and that requires linguistic domain expertise too. Ironically, there is even a cryptocurrency called … Iota (designed for use with the Internet of Things [IOT]).

Oh No, It’s ONO!

I’ve changed career in the last few months, now offering digital transformation consultancy to established and startup ventures seeking to design the right digital thing the right way and to be ready to go global. I’ve been diving into the cryptocurrency space and grappling with the new ideas, concepts, and a new strange language that comes with it.

Cryptocurrency word cloud: Has language itself been disrupted by innovation? (Wordle by Ultan Ó Broin)

Cryptocurrency word cloud: Has language itself been disrupted by innovation? (Wordle by Ultan Ó Broin)

This is about much more than the Bitcoin and blockchain buzzwords du jour that people throw about without actually having an iota what these mean or indeed possible uses (blockchain, for example is behind the Chinese social media platform, ONO).

Mental “Block” About Cryptocurrencies?

If you want to explore this decentralised space further, there’s a blog series worth reading from Genson C. Glier on blockchain, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and cryptocurrency. I also recommend  this podcast from Tim Ferriss that covers all you were afraid to ask about, although some of terms and concepts will make your head spin (cheat list: jump to the “Show Notes” on the podcast). Try understanding these terms: Miner, Smart Contract, Daap, Truffle, Ganache, Hashcash, “Wet” Code, “Dry” Code, ICO, Metamask, and Gas.

Advertisement for eToro cyrptocurrency platform on Dublin public transport. Interest in cryptocurrencies has increased greatly in Ireland.

Advertisement for the eToro cryptocurrency platform on Dublin public transport. Interest in cryptocurrencies has increased greatly in Ireland. (Image: Ultan Ó Broin)

Although many people and institutions are rightly cautious about cryptocurrencies, they are a “thing” now and attitudes are shifting from suspicion to curiosity Providing localization of the conversation around cryptocurrencies and non-developer facing terms would be a great starting point to increase familiarity and adoption

Providing localization of the conversation around cryptocurrencies and non-developer facing terms would be a great starting point to increase familiarity and adoption Click To Tweet.

Read the small print. Consumer warning about cryptocurrencies lack regulation and protection on an eToro advertisement in Dublin, Ireland. (Image: Ultan Ó Broin)

Read the fine print. Consumer warning about cryptocurrency lack of regulation and protection on an eToro advertisement in Dublin, Ireland. (Image: Ultan Ó Broin)

Cryptocurrency Localization Needed

Generally, cryptocurrencies are for most adopters a form of value storage. However, cryptocurrencies are rapidly becoming a medium of value exchange, too (“digital money”). Bitcoin ATMs are appearing globally, for example. In Ireland, about 120,000 people in Ireland now own a cryptocurrency, a 300 per cent increase in the last four years. And yet, that basic usability heuristic of using plain language to communicate a concept even to experts to enable ease of use and adoption has already gone out the window.

The list of Bitcoin-friendly countries contains some surprises (Estonia is number one), and includes locations where English is very often not a mother tongue (although development tools and coding platforms are in English). We cannot be dismissive of the significant regulatory and security aspects of cryptocurrencies for now. But localization challenges are worth planning for now if cryptocurrencies are to move to the mainstream beyond those Silicon Valley types and their friends.

It’s likely, of course, that we will also see traditional finance, banking, Fintech, and cryptocurrencies all interact with more solidity in the future, adding to the need for more localization creativity.

Cryptocurrency Disruption Includes Language

At times, it’s hard to accept that the localization maxim English Is Just Another Language could apply in a cryptocurrency space that seems to have disrupted the notion of the English language itself. James Joyce might be proud of this kind of word invention, and of course it’s all a matter of context. But I remain gobsmacked by some of the terms I come across. It’s clear that lack of localization is a serious barrier to cryptocurrency adoption when even someone who has  worked in digital tech for three decades is struggling.

I need to learn that lingo though, as Dublin seems to be place it’s all happening for those cryptocurrency and blockchain ambitions.

Ah, the irony of that word, block, when it comes to getting your head around cryptocurrencies.

More About Cryptocurrencies?

 

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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SDL Tados 2021

Localization Basics

Localization Basics

So you want to expand into new markets. Or maybe you want to know what translation mistakes your company should avoid. Possibly, you’re just curious what localization is. Great! You’ve come to the right place. Here are four important thing to keep in mind.

1. The customer is always right

You should know what your different end-users need, as Richard Sikes explains in an article about international expansion. Knowing what customers in various locales want, and then delivering it to them in a culturally-acceptable, error-free way, is the underlying focus of localization. You can read the full article, as well as several others on localization basics, in this excerpt from MultiLingual.

2. Localization management can be tricky

If you think you can hand off your international expansion or translation to Jan in IT or José in marketing, you might be in for a rude awakening. Translation, vendor management, localization project management — these are all full-time jobs that you need to outsource to qualified individuals or hire in-house. You can study up on it in further detail in this focus.

3. Translation itself is tricky

Especially when you factor in choosing a translation vendor and understanding translation technology. And by “translation technology,” we don’t necessarily mean machine translation, which you’re probably already familiar with thanks to Google Translate. Being a good translator requires a high level of expertise, especially in this day and age. Read more here.

4. In the localization industry, you can always learn more

Consider how complex each language is. Consider how complex the social cues, habits and customs of each country are. Multiply that by every language and every culture in the world, and then multiply that by the expanding set of technology we use on a daily basis. This industry is exciting because there’s always something new to learn or explore, whether that’s how to localize apps, how to localize voice recordings, how to translate for the medical devices of the future or a host of other considerations.

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Katie Botkin, Editor-in-Chief at MultiLingual, has a background in linguistics and journalism. She began publishing "multilingual" newsletters at the age of 15, and went on to invest her college and post-graduate career in language learning, teaching and writing. She has extensive experience with niche American microcultures across the political spectrum.

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Resources for Mobile App Developers' Translation Planning

Language in Business, Language in the News, Language Industry News and Events

I was reading a Techcrunch article called the Number of Mobile Devices Will Exceed World’s Population by 2012. All very interesting stuff that I would encourage you to read. However, I was little underwhelmed by the article’s title claim as I thought we were already there (there are more phones than people in Ireland, for example). As for only 8% of the population carrying more than one device in 2011, well …  (I have three iPhones, one iPad, one Kindle Fire,  one Google Nexus S, and one Blackberry curve alone).

Against this backdrop of global mobile expansion, I wondered about a good source of information about the global usage of mobile apps. I found out about one: App Annie.

Check out this superb App Annie infographic called The Rise of the Planet of the Apps, and the country-based charts on what apps (paid and free) are popular in app stores.

Just iOS now for the charts, but they tell me Android figures are coming. Can’t wait, as Android is sure to make an even bigger  impact globally, and especially in developing regions too.

App Annie: a great resource for planning your global mobile app strategy. Know those markets people!

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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The Dublin Windows Phone Code Camp: A Localization Debrief

Language Industry News and Events, Personalization and Design, Translation Technology

I attended the Windows Phone (WP) code camp at Microsoft in Dublin, an event organized by the Microsoft Ireland Development and Platform Evangelism (DPE) team and Dublin ALT.NET. One of the great things about my interests profile is that I get to cover user experience (UX), developer relations, localization, and a bunch of other cool stuff, all at the same time. The WP camp was no exception. I guesstimated that between 70 and 80 people turned up.

First up, Josh Holmes of Microsoft gave a quick overview of how to use the WP development environment, pointing out key UX features of the WP7 Metro interface– panning and pivot interactions, for example–and how to integrate geolocation, web services (no, nothing on Microsoft Translator, sadly), and so on. Microsoft has done a great job with Metro and I cannot wait to play with it in the field.

Lumia 800 with Windows Phone 7 Metro UX. Picture taken in Vodafone store in Dublin, Ireland.

Lumia 800 with Windows Phone Metro UX. Picture taken in Vodafone store in Dublin, Ireland.

Then, it was the turn of Matthew M. Gonzales (@matthewgonzales) of Irish cloud-based, localization as a service, solution Tethras to talk about the localization of mobile apps and global market trends. Some points that sunk home for me from the localization discussion were:

  • There’s a relatively low breakeven dollar point for localization of apps, and developers need to sell less than three dozen to turn a profit.
  • Don’t forget to localize the app store or market place description for the app. In fact this appears to constitute the bulk of the cost (marketing people, huh?).
  • Apps developers really do have to know their market and strategize accordingly. For example, in Brazil and Korea whatever the potential and strength of the app market, most users will not pay for gaming apps. In Japan, localization is hypercritical; so don’t forget to localize pictures of people, icons, and so on. Oh, don’t forget the potential offered by Nordic markets, either.
  • All the major platforms of interest to mobile apps developers are internationalized and provide for localization. It’s the app’s resources that are localized, so there aren’t 30 versions of the app executable being distributed. Windows Phone is no exception, and furthermore there are some very useful style and terminology guidelines available from Microsoft for the more serious-minded developer.

Later, I chatted with some app developers about localization. Their main concern was not about cost but knowing local markets and whether their localized app would take off without being blessed by some international viral campaign. Perhaps, there’s an opportunity for some innovator to address that. An additional service of localizing targeted collateral for integration into a localized communications ecosystem of tweets, recommendations, shared links, and so on, maybe?

On a more general point, I love attending these events and talking with others and watching what’s going down. I believe that for language technology to make any real headway where it matters economically–with individual developers and with small and medium enterprises and innovation–then it needs to start making an appearance at events like WP code camps, amongst others.

Thank you Microsoft DPE and Dublin ALT.NET for making this happen. And, what a wonderful building Microsoft employees have as a workplace in Dublin. I was deeply jealous!

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Ultan Ó Broin (@localization), is an independent UX consultant. With three decades of UX and L10n experience and outreach, he specializes in helping people ensure their global digital transformation makes sense culturally and also reflects how users behave locally.

Any views expressed are his own. Especially the ones you agree with.

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