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Innovation thriving in NZ's financial services - Canstar

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Once the feared institutions that could make or break financial dreams, banks had a formidable reputation as inflexible and slow moving. However, as customer awareness and confidence of their needs and the desire to have them met has grown in parallel with the financial sector embracing the digital revolution, financial institutions are changing the way they interact with customers and not only looking to meet expectation, they want to shape it and beat it.

"Technology has opened up a whole new world for financial institutions and their customers." Says Canstar general manager Jose George. "Customers are realising their data, and the insights it can give, is valuable and at the same time banks have taken on a real ‘can do’ attitude, stepping out of their traditional zones, using fintech to shape new ways of interacting and working with customers. This has given us an environment where the financial sector has engaged in the customer journey, supporting and enabling people to make better informed financial, and ultimately life, decisions."

Innovative financial propositions

Every year Canstar assess new and innovative financial propositions from across New Zealand. Each one is assessed and evaluated for its degree of innovation and the potential impact it has on customers and their behaviours.

Reflecting the continuing surge in innovation that digital technology has facilitated, this year a record number of entries were received from across the spectrum of New Zealand’s financial industry.

George continues:"The number of submissions we evaluated is reflective of the pace and passion of New Zealand’s financial sector in providing customers with meaningful, useful tools and insights. This year, we’ve recognised three outstanding propositions, each very different but with the ability to impact customers in a beneficial way.

SMEs - the backbone of the New Zealand economy

New Zealand is a nation of small businesses, but where do start-ups and small businesses go when they’re just starting out? Funding and opportunities to grow ideas and concepts is often available but the simple things such as office space, meeting rooms and internet connections can be expensive overheads that become costly roadblocks. It can also be an isolating time for many entrepreneurs as they try to get their business off the ground. It was acknowledging and focusing on these common problems that lead BNZ to create community101.

Operating within a traditional retail banking environment, community101 has created a business focused, free-to-use space with facilities for businesses to utilise. No banking relationship with BNZ is required, members simply download the app to become part of the community.

BNZ’s head of small business, Harry Ferreira, explains:

"The space, is designed to cater to most requirements and the environment is one of connection and collaboration, facilitating a sense of community both physically and digitally. In addition, a Space Relationship Manager is available to help members day-to-day and dedicated workshops are held on subjects ranging from finance and accounting through to HR and personal development."

Growing and understanding business management Recognising the many different hats and resulting pressures small business owners have to wear inspired our second Canstar Innovation Award winner, Plus by ASB.

Tracking understanding and acting on changing information such as cash flow, performance and sales metrics is crucial to the decisions that will help a business survive and strive, but it can be a difficult task for any small business owner when they have so many priorities. Plus removes some of the difficulties by not only bringing the information together but displaying it in a single app that is currently available to smartphone users (and is being rolled out on android by the end of April 2018), irrespective of who they bank with.

David Bell, ASB general manager business ventures explains:

"Plus by ASB collates information from different on-line tools including, Google Analytics, Shopify, Vend and Xero into a single app to provide small business owners with real-time insights. Each day the app identifies the top 10 insights for the business and suggests a course of action to follow to help the user make quick informed decisions. This allows business owners to get on with their day confident the ‘numbers’ are under control."

Home loans central part of personal finance

A home loan is one of the biggest financial decisions we will ever make yet it can feel removed from our day-to-day lives and finances. Online repayment calculators have been a welcome addition in recent years and ASB has now developed their facilities to launch a highly personalised online facility giving customers a holistic view of their financial position. Tracking home loan repayments, and status alongside every day banking is one of the core objectives behind ASB’s Home Central, a personalised tool available to all ASB home loan customers.

Vince Clark, ASB’s head of product portfolio management explains:

"The sophisticated, highly personalised data analytics behind ASB Home Central allows customers to track their home loan activity alongside their everyday banking in a very visual sense. Customers can experiment with repayment options, seeing the impact on the life of their home loan. This enables customers to make informed decisions on their spending and repayment patterns. In addition, ASB Home Central provides an up-to-date property or council valuation giving customers a holistic view of their loan and estimated equity position."

George concludes:

"Canstar Innovation Award winners are reflective of the game-changing developments taking place in our banking sector. These are real examples of New Zealand punching above its weight, developing cutting edge propositions that can improve customer banking at a national and even global scale. This year’s winners have a lot to be proud of."

- CANSTAR’s Innovation Excellence Award winners

Winner / Innovation

ASB / Home Central

ASB / Plus

BNZ / community101

Further information about the Canstar Innovation Awards 2018 winners - https://www.canstar.co.nz/star-rating-reports/innovation-excellence-award/

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