ANZ bank in NZ$100 e-business drive

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ) is transforming itself into an "e-business" to the tune of more than NZ$100 million (US$43 million).

A raft of new e-commerce services is being launched, some of which ANZ says are new to New Zealand. They include Internet-enabled payment gateways, digital certificates, electronic credit and trade finance products and a new e-procurement online marketplace.

ANZ says it began electronic banking five years ago, but next year hopes to achieve its goal of becoming an "e-bank with a human face."

"These e-commerce initiatives follow on from Australia (but) the strategy is set at a local level," says Greg Dyer, the bank's newly-appointed head of business e-commerce, who will head the "e-transformation."

The payment gateway service was launched in Australia late last year, with the bank providing the payment service behind Sony's Web site for the launch of PlayStation 2. It allows payments over the Internet from bank accounts and credit card accounts. ANZ plans to launch ANZ eGate next month in New Zealand and says it already has several corporate companies lined up, though Dyer refuses to name them.

ANZ's digital certificates, set for release within a few months, are intended to boost e-commerce security by using a system of "keys" on top of existing encryption services so both purchaser and supplier know who they are dealing with.

It works when smartcards containing a chip, similar to phonecards, are put into a floppy disk, or an "I-Key" that uses the USB (Universal Serial Bus) port. Some digital certificates already operate elsewhere. After working with Dublin-based Baltimore Technologies, the bank will start issuing its own within a few months. In addition, through a US$2 million investment in the e-commerce security system consortium Identrus, the bank expects easy global transactions by next year.

By mid-2001, ANZ will "Webify" many traditional banking services both here and in Australia. These include automated credit applications, assessment payment guarantees, supplier performance assessments and "escrow" (payment) services.

In e-procurement, the bank has just launched its ANZebiz.com marketplace. Piloted at the end of last year, the site will bring buyers and suppliers through a Web portal to a horizontal marketplace, and offer users a range of banking services.

The multimillion-dollar site is provided by MRO.com, part of the U.S.-based PDSI Corp. It will link to corProcure -- Australia's first business-to-business (B2B) multi-industry marketplace, which will also serve New Zealand. ANZ last year became one of 14 strategic alliance partners in the venture, whose members expect significant savings from a planned annual spend of $A8 billion (US$4.2 billion) using the corProcure.com Web site.

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