New Zealand has been a leader in embracing new payment technology like EFTPOS, and we’d love to see the country keep up its reputation as an early adopter. Right now, various Government agencies are working on legislative instruments that are designed to make our nation more digitally advanced, more productive, and generally easier to live in than it’s ever been before.
Creating a national digital strategy – possibly with a digital currency
The Department of Internal Affairs is working toward an overall Digital Strategy for Aotearoa, designed to be a five-year-plus blueprint for using digital solutions to make New Zealand more productive with lower emissions.
At the same time, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) is working on developing strategies around both The Future of Money and the future of payments. The Future of Money looks at retail payments and cash – plus a potential central bank digital currency, which could be exciting. Internationally, we’re seeing other central banks also investigating digital currency, with China starting public testing on a digital RMB in April 2021.
RBNZ’s future of payments review will cover the electronic payments system from end to end. That means not only consumer transactions, but also bank clearing and settlement; the RBNZ is reviewing the entire chain. That’s a massive job and we’ll be watching closely to see what changes the RBNZ decides to make. We’d like to see real-time payments implemented, that way, money would be transferred between banks instantly instead of sometimes taking up to three days!
Sharing information could make our lives easier
Another exciting development for our daily lives is the consumer data right, being established by MBIE. It’s making slow progress, but we’re looking forward to this happening because there are some major potential advantages. For Worldline, consumer data rights will enable open banking products and services, and it will help us make the most of our Open API technology. This platform also enables online EFTPOS, which has been our major success story: active users more than tripled in 2021. It’s just one of the many easy and low-cost products we can offer once open banking is widespread.
With consumer data rights established, New Zealand can offer a digital ID service to every citizen. That would allow us to use fewer documents, it would keep our information safer, and it would smooth out all sorts of daily interactions like buying alcohol, renting a car or showing a vaccine pass. Instead of holding up a document with all your personal details on it, like your licence or vaccine pass, the vendor could simply send a request to your digital ID provider which would confirm your age or validity without providing the vendor with all that extra information. This would be a major step forward in both convenience and information safety.
Right now, Worldline is involved with testing rules that will sit under the Digital Identity Services Trust Framework. It sets out the standards to which digital ID service providers must meet in order to be accredited by the trust framework. We’re working to make sure our standards and rules cooperate with those in other countries. Our company’s global reach allows us to inform agencies on what’s happening overseas and how New Zealand can align with other international economies to make things smoother when travelling.
More choice, at better prices
In the short term, there will also be some benefits for merchants and consumers from the Retail Payment System Bill, which is close to being enacted. It will regulate payments to prevent excessive credit card surcharges, moving us toward a more competitive payment sector.
When you add open banking to this, both consumers and merchants will have more choices at better prices for everyday transactions. Worldline is in an excellent position to provide some of these alternatives because we’ve persisted with investing in our Open API payments products, hanging in where others have given up.
All these regulatory initiatives will shape New Zealand’s digital future. Once we have a clear map towards Aotearoa’s digital future, businesses that operate in these ecosystems will have a better idea about how to invest and what products to develop.
I would love to see Aotearoa use its small size to our advantage. We have a small population, but a highly connected one, with 95% of us owning a smartphone. With these new rules, plus improvements in trust and inclusivity, we can have a world-leading digital economy and a higher standard of living for everyone.