MasterCard Westpac: Innovation winner for MasterCard Airpoints

Westpac’s Airpoints™ Debit MasterCard® has won a 2016 Canstar Innovation Award. Canstar caught up with Shane Howell, Chief Product Officer, to find out more about the development process and consumer application.

New Zealand is responsible for a number of world-changing inventions, from splitting the atom and bungee jumping to the humble electric fence. Each year Canstar reviews the market to identify financial products and services that can be described as ‘innovative’ and a first to market and in 2016 Westpac is a winner, with its innovative Airpoints™ Debit MasterCard®.

Westpac is the first financial institution in New Zealand to offer any kind of rewards program on a debit card. It is a market first and has the potential to could change the landscape of rewards programs. The Westpac Airpoints Debit MasterCard is a product that is easy to get, easy to understand, and easy to use. Canstar caught up with Westpac’s Shane Howell, Chief Product Officer, to find out more.

Q: Westpac’s Airpoints™ Debit MasterCard®  is a terrific product! What prompted you to offer rewards on a debit card?

A: Our relationship with Air NZ was a great opportunity to recognise the value of our customers and help them maximise their reward earning potential alongside their credit card, or offer something new to customers who choose not to use a credit card.

The rewards earning potential for the Westpac Airpoints™ Debit MasterCard® is likely to appeal to a wide variety of customers, from students saving for flights to return from University or families saving for their next holiday.

Q: What input did you seek from staff and customers in the development phase?

A: Very early on we engaged customers about what rewards would appeal to them. We spoke to a selection of customers in the development and design phase to make sure the product was customer-centric in every aspect. This ranged from the earn rate, card design, functionality and accessibility so we could provide a seamless customer journey from end to end. The development phase involved people from right across the bank and was a real team effort. We implemented staff surveys and an internal working group to ensure our customer’s experience was our number one priority. The phased roll-out began with offering the product to our existing customers so that they were given the first opportunity to benefit from the Airpoints Debit MasterCard.

Q: Have you been pleased with the takeup of the card? What type of customer feedback are you receiving?

A: We have seen a significant number of customers take up the product. Our newly developed online ordering platform is very quick and after only a few clicks a new customer can gain the product direct from

For existing customers, the process takes less than 60 seconds on Westpac One (our online banking platform). This has also resulted in very high conversion of customers from application to check-out. As a result, a significant number of customers now benefit from earning Airpoints Dollars™ on their everyday spend that didn’t previously, and our non-credit card customers have been delighted they can earn Airpoints Dollars too.

Q: How can customers best use the ‘Airpoints Debit MasterCard’ to their advantage?

A: The great thing about this product is how accessible it is to earn Airpoints Dollars. Rewards can be earned and maximised by transacting online, over the phone, through EFTPOS and contactless, and at places where credit is not accepted, even abroad. This includes every transaction from your morning coffee, to bigger expenses like DIY purchases for the home. Customers just need to maintain funds in their account to be able to transact through the card, as it’s linked to their Transaction Account like any other debit card.

Q: What is the process that you go through when designing the look of a card?

A: Using our debit and credit cards is one of the ways our customers interact with us daily. So we aim to design and produce cards that our customers are proud to pull from their wallet.

The Airpoints Debit MasterCard is a great example of this and we regularly receive positive customer feedback on its look and feel. When designing a card we always consider the product and who it appeals to. This particular card was designed with an under 35 audience in mind who love earning Airpoints Dollars. This is why we landed on the modern design with subtle flight references that our customers love.

Canstar congratulates Westpac on its Innovation Award. You can read more about the Innovation Award win here.


Read Canstar's full Innovation Excellence Awards report

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