On his RadioLive Drive show Duncan Garner talked with Westpac’s Damian Sharkey about a new report from the OECD that shows us as leaders in digital adoption.
Listen to the audio of the interview here, or read the transcript below.
Duncan Garner: This new OECD report that is out is phenomenal. It shows that we are early adopters of digital technology. We love doing business on the iPhone, and it seems we’ve all got one. But it seems to me, especially when you look at the OECD report that we have mobile connections up the wazoo.
Damian Sharkey out of Westpac, nice to see you.
Damian Sharkey: You too Duncan.
DG: How’s things, good?
DS: Yeah good thanks.
DG: What do you reckon this report tells us?
DS: I think it’s absolute proof that New Zealanders are early adopters, because the important thing here is in the last year we’ve actually gone into this top 10, so we’re one of nine that have over 100% of our people have a mobile broadband connection.
DG: It’s phenomenal, isn’t it?
DS: It is, especially when you think that that’s actually ahead of the UK, Switzerland, and France. Countries that you think would be up there.
DG: Is it cheap for us or something? I wouldn’t have thought it was at this end of the Earth.
DS: Well, that might play a factor in it, but I think really what it is is that from a banking point of view is we see our customers are asking for us to offer up services that are digital. So I think part of it is people just wanting to do things in a far more efficient way.
DG: Digital banking’s massive isn’t it? All New Zealand banks now have a digital bank.
DS: That’s right. There’s actually two things there. What it means if you think about New Zealand businesses which we’re both passionate about is if you’re starting out you can actually stand up a back office from scratch.
And the second thing is it means you can actually expand very quickly. I’ll give you an example, there’s a company called RightWay, you’ll love this, their head office is in Martinborough. They’re actually accountants but the beauty of their model is they’ve actually gone from 0 to about 70 accountants on the ground throughout New Zealand in the past 6 years, and those people handle no paper whatsoever. So they spend time providing high quality advice to clients.
DG: And this is the answer to this congestion in Auckland, the housing issues in Auckland. And I’m surprised we’re not seeing more leadership from big businesses around New Zealand about digital technology. Because digital technology means you can drive staff and your audience out into the regions, doesn’t it? The RightWay example’s perfect.
DS: Yeah it is the perfect example of it, but to get back to the banking this is it also means face-to-face is still very important for the big decisions in life, if you’re buying a home for example. But if you think about what services you can now do, you can pin your card online, you can go to a deposit ATM any time of day, you can make mobile payments.
DG: Are you guys still developing your banking apps, your digital banking? Because it’s seems to me when I jump online to do my banking it’s very easy now. I pay my tax to the IRD! It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?
DS: And I think the OECD report highlights that, because the growth is well over 10% a year. I think if you go back to 2014, New Zealand was about 94.6 per 100, and now we’re 118 per 100.
DG: Do you think you guys at Westpac can develop more on that banking app and digital banking? Have you got more services to offer?
DS: What we’ve seen in the past is that the services do develop over time. There’s no two ways about that.
DG: It’s exciting, isn’t it?
DS: Yeah it is.
DG: As you say, all you need is an iPhone to set up a business.
DS: That’s right.
DG: Phenomenal. You don’t need to be in Auckland with these fancy houses and house prices and jobs now do we?
DS: No you don’t.