Perhaps more famous for a world cup winning rugby team and hobbits, New Zealand also boasts a thriving technology scene – populated by both homegrown companies and multinationals. You see, we’re the ideal testing ground for new gizmos and gadgets. Why? Well, as a tech-savvy, relatively affluent and English speaking country, we make the perfect Guinea Pigs. Plus, if a product release goes belly up, collateral damage is limited to 4 million or so people on two remote islands at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.
As a New Zealander myself, travelling overseas has always been a slightly ‘back to the past’ experience. Talk to any Kiwi living overseas and they’ll lament how difficult it is to pay for goods and services by debit card compared to back home. In the 1980’s we were one of the first testing grounds worldwide to trial EFTPOS. As a kid, it wasn’t uncommon to head to your local corner store (or Dairy, as we call them back home) and pay for Mum and Dad’s newspaper using your EFTPOS card. Quite an adjustment all us expats have had to make living in countries like the UK or Australia.
Yet we don’t just make great lab rats, we are also great inventors. Kiwi ingenuity, or our ‘Number 8 wire’ mentality as it is known in New Zealand, has allowed our small nation to punch above its weight on the world stage. We split the atom, invented bungy jumping and jet boats, and even can lay claim to inventing jogging. I kid you not. Read more here.
And while financial technology is still a nascent industry, no doubt this sector will be subject to a little more of our Kiwi ingenuity over the coming few years . With that in mind, below are a few companies worthwhile having on your radar.
Semble – mobile payments
Launched in March of this year, Semble is a partnership between EFTPOS provider Paymark, New Zealand banks ASB and BNZ and three of the largest mobile network operators; 2degrees, Spark and Vodafone.
Using MasterCard wallet technology and Gemalto’s Trusted Services Hub to secure transactions, the platform’s strategy for acquiring users looks to be mirroring the UK market’s Oyster Card/MasterCard partnership. Partnering with Snapper, a pre-paid public transport provider, Semble looks set to become the antipodean equivalent. Like MasterCard, the company is no doubt hoping behavioural changes in how Kiwi’s pay for their daily commute will then filter into everyday purchasing behaviour. It’s a fairly safe bet – insiders at MasterCard indicate the strategy is already proving a winner in the UK.
Harmoney – peer to peer consumer lending
When it comes to p2p lending, New Zealand’s Harmoney leads the APAC region. With NZ$100 million loans disbursed out of NZ$1 billion in applications, it easily outshines it’s Australian peers Society One and Ratesetter, who have matched around half of this each. No doubt both companies will be closely watching Harmoney’s entry into the Australian market, in an effort to understand their secret recipe for success.
BraveNewCoin – Blockchain and Digital Equities data research
As they say, knowledge is power, and BraveNewCoin’s vision is to deliver investors all the information they need to know about the new classes of digital assets. Like a Morningstar for Bitcoin, the company hit the global stage recently as a finalist in the World Cup Tech Challenge 2015 in Silicon Valley.
But probably the biggest success story to date in the Kiwi fintech space is super-star Xero, who look set to expand beyond their cloud accounting base to encompass a range of other SME focussed financial products. And if Xero are anything to benchmark Kiwi innovation and ingenuity against, the future for fintech in Aotearoa certainly looks bright.
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