The Companies Office was one of the first government agencies to get into online secure payment.
“We may not have been the first to use 128-bit encryption in New Zealand, but our application to the US government to be allowed to import it was the first to be processed,” says national manager of online services, Andrew Wagg.
The office began by offering payment by direct debit for services such as detailed company searches, in August 1996. In January 1999 it introduced credit-card payment facilities.
“We expected some resistance to the direct-debit scheme, but it didn’t eventuate,” Wagg says. Using that channel, the office found itself dealing chiefly with professionals such as accountants and solicitors. But with the introduction of credit-card payments, the end-users, the businesspeople, started linking up directly, realising they didn’t need to use an intermediary any more.”
Dealing with such a different clientele the processes need to be more robust, Wagg says. The descriptions on screen need to be fuller and the help more extensive, and it needs to shift from explaining matters in technical terms to phrasing the explanations in business terms.
Since introducing the Company Keys scheme, which allows representatives of particular companies to update their own company files online, the office has seen the proportion of end users among its customer base rise to 32%. That tells them that businesspeople were “ready and waiting” to take advantage of online access and more flexible means of payment, Wagg says.