NZ Well Placed For E-Commerce

Rather than lagging the world in e-commerce, New Zealand is at the front of the pack, according to research presented at the e-commerce summit in Auckland.

Lew Evans and Bronwyn Howell, from the Wellington-based Institute for the Study of Competition and Regulation, say New Zealand is well placed against other countries when it comes to the three key infrastructure components of e-commerce -- an electronic payments backbone, use of the Internet and telecommunications.

New Zealand banking has a world-leading system supporting check clearance, transfers, deposits and withdrawals via Eftpos (electronic funds transfer at point of sale) and ATMs (automatic teller machines). This shows preparedness for e-commerce, even though this process is not driven by the Internet.

Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) figures measuring Internet infrastructure and hosts per 1000 inhabitants, domain name registrations and secure Web servers per million inhabitants show New Zealand to be among world leaders in terms of Internet readiness and uptake.

In telecommunications ISP (Internet service provider) prices here are falling and are now lower than Australia in all areas, according to an OECD report, Local Access Pricing and E-Commerce. New Zealand is in the top four countries in the world for every published indicator, Evans says.

Because of a lack of statistics on e-commerce in New Zealand, the pair analyzed e-mail and Web site listings in the Telecom Yellow Pages. Surprisingly, they found that the South Island had a greater uptake of e-mail than the North, with the Marlborough region being particularly strong. When it came to Web site registration, both Dunedin and Wellington were ahead of Auckland by proportion.

ISCR is a two-year-old independent, nonprofit research institute located in Victoria University's Rutherford House.

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