New Zealand Banks: Industry changes are no surprise

Who carries cash in their wallet nowadays? Beyond a token amount for coffee or car parking, the amount of cold, hard cash we carry is in terminal decline. And when was the last time you wrote a cheque?

By contrast, the total number of electronic transactions concluded each month continues to rise. According to the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ), there were a total of 112 million transactions made across all industries in June 2014, with a total value of $5.7 billion. In June 2010, by comparison, there were 90 million electronic card transactions with New Zealand-based merchants, for a total value of $5.2 billion. The highest number of individual transactions in a single month between June 2010 and now was 128 million transactions in December 2013. A spot of last-minute Christmas shopping is no doubt included within those figures.

It isn’t just our means of paying for goods and services that has changed. It’s also the way that we access our accounts, apply for new financial products and even share money with friends and family. Increasingly we’re not just online, we’re mobile as well.

Mark Lenaarts, Product Manager with Westpac, the 2014 winner of Canstar’s Best Value New Zealand Everyday Banking award, relishes the change. “It’s no surprise that the way people want to do their everyday banking is changing incredibly quickly and Westpac is focusing on being the world’s leading digital bank to lead the way,” he said.

“In the last 12 months there has been substantial growth in customers using online banking, with mobile leading this growth.  But on mobile people want an easy answer to ‘what is my balance’ without having to log in.  We were one of the first in the world with an app to solve for that – “Cashtank” – and now we’ve integrated that technology into our online banking. But you can’t stop there, in fact now you can also apply for home loans, personal loans and credit cards while out and about on your mobile – because we don’t believe that online banking should just be about moving money around.”

Indeed, Roy Morgan research last year found that of New Zealand’s 1.4 million smartphone users, approximately one-third of them did one or more banking and finance activities on their phone in an average four week period.

“The level of comfort with smartphones apps, especially those in the banking and finance space that wirelessly connect to our personal accounts and information, is a key indicator of technology adoption,” said Pip Elliott, General Manager, Roy Morgan Research NZ. “These results suggest that as more and more Kiwis adopt the technology, our level of comfort with smartphones—and integration into our everyday lives—will be high.”

This is a finding that Westpac is happy to foster. “Over the next year customers will see even more innovation being rolled out to bring more great experiences for our customers in the digital world,” said Mr Lenaarts.

Consumers can click here to download Canstar’s latest  Best Value New Zealand Everyday Banking report.

Share this article