FI Highlight: Westpac New Zealand

Introducing new technologies can often be a challenge when looking at customer adoption. We recently touched base with Shane Howell, Chief Product Officer, Westpac New Zealand, to discuss how Westpac’s mobile payment sticker roll-out was a strategic risk worth taking.

In a few sentences, can you tell us about Westpac Bank?  

Westpac has been operating in New Zealand since 1861 and is one of the country’s largest full service banks with over 1.3 million customers. Westpac provides a full range of retail and commercial financial services including home and business lending, funds management and treasury services. We offer financial services to corporate and institutional customers through Westpac Institutional Bank including finance, capital raising, financial markets, transaction and international trade services. We are committed to improving the quality of life of a broad range of New Zealanders through active support of a variety of organizations, services and facilities including the Westpac Rescue Helicopters, The Sir Peter Blake Trust and the For Everyone Charitable Foundation.

Can you tell us about the recent mobile payment stickers Westpac recently launched?

Westpac recently launched mobile payment stickers called Westpac PayTag which can be attached to the back of a mobile device (or any other suitable item), enabling customers to make fast, secure contact-less payments of up to $80 (NDZ) simply by holding their smartphone up to a contact-less terminal. Developed in partnership with Gemalto, Westpac PayTag is protected by secure encryption technology making it just as safe as an ordinary contact-less card. For instance, if a Westpac PayTag is lost or stolen it is covered by MasterCard’s Zero Liability policy for unauthorized transactions.

How has the launch of Westpac PayTag enabled you to better meet your customer’s needs?

New Zealanders are generally early adopters of all technologies as we have with less cash per capita circulating here than in other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. So, we expect them to absolutely take this up at rapid pace – especially as it’s something customers continue to tell us they want.

How has PayTag enhanced the consumer experience?

The beauty of the smart device is the convergence of technology into a single device, rather than carrying multiple items around. One device can perform more and more functions as each year goes on.

We already use our smartphones to organize so many aspects of our lives, so using them to make payments is just a natural extension of this. It’s all about driving simplicity and convenience for the customer. For purchases like a coffee in the morning, or picking up some dinner on the way home, with Westpac PayTag there’s no need to fumble around looking for a wallet or even to enter a PIN number.

What type of results have you seen thus far on both the bank side and end user side?

Uptake has exceeded expectations, with thousands issued since mid-October. Most importantly, customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Customers are telling us they love the ease and convenience of using Paytag and the positive reactions they’ve had from both retailers and other customers in the store when using it.

It’s no secret that consumers want a more cashless experience in the payment industry, what kind of advice would you give to smaller financial institutions that are thinking about experimenting with these types of technologies?

It’s important to be clear on the strategic relevance of initiatives like this. While new technology can require a significant investment and there might be limited customers interested in using it in the early days, it’s important to think long term as well.  However, being clear on strategic role it plays for the organization is important.

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Written by Staff