"New Zealand is a test bed for AMP's global e-commerce plans," says AMP Financial Services head of marketing John McMurdo.
A compact market and low development costs make New Zealand an ideal place to develop and implement new e-commerce initiatives, with AMP Financial Service's international parents keen to develop New Zealand's e-commerce potential before applying the technology worldwide, he says.
AMP is taking an incremental path to building a comprehensive online financial service, says McMurdo. For three years AMP has been adding new functionality, with the latest major update in September introducing InvestorNet – an online investor service in its range of global investments. McMurdo says InvestorNet has processed $42m of online trading in its first four months of operation. By maintaining their AMP investment portfolios online, registered users can regularly check their portfolio's performance and make transactions at anytime via their cash account. Convenience, not price, is InvestorNet's key advantage, says McMurdo.
And what about the opposition?
"No response as yet," says McMurdo, "but we know that competitors are looking hard at their options."
AMP's e-commerce service complements AMP's conventional marketing initiatives. AMP advisers are encouraging clients to use InvestorNet. Conversely the site prompts users to contact their AMP adviser for personalised advice. The AMP site has also been advertised in print.
While the site is built to service the New Zealand marketplace, AMP would like to go global with its site, says McMurdo, the main obstacle being able how to handle international transactions in New Zealand dollars. As it is, AMP's Australian parents are taking a keen interest in the site's development, he says.
The site undergoes a constant cycle of minor updating and upgrading to improve functionality of its existing service areas. The next major update is scheduled for the end of the year to add online share trading. For AMP, e-commerce is set to gradually displace its conventional means of service delivery.
Apart from InvestorNet, AMP's site currently allows users to access AMP's online banking and insurance services. AMP's online banking service allows users to apply for loans and make transactions on their existing bank accounts, while the insurance service allows users to obtain online insurance quotes then buy a range of insurance products, plus as needed lodge insurance claims.
Site functionality has been developed according to AMP's existing lines of business activity. AMP's in-house IT team works with external developers, including Microsoft and Synergy, to develop the various areas of functionality. InvestorNet, for instance, was developed by AMP and Microsoft using a SQL Server 7 database. InvestorNet is hosted in-house by AMP Hendersons. Firewalls protect the site, while registered users logging on to secure areas, such as transaction pages, have their sessions protected by a 128-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption system.