Mastercard and Business NZ launch of ‘Staying Safe Online’ for New Zealand Businesses

Good morning and thank you for having me here during Cyber Smart Week for the launch of Staying Safe Online for Small Business. I’d like to start by thanking Ruth Riviere for that great introduction to Staying Safe Online. It really is fantastic to see the private sector championing a resource aimed at helping our small businesses thrive online.

I’d also like to acknowledge Kirk Hope and Business NZ for hosting us all here today in Wellington.

Our Government is committed to building a productive, sustainable and inclusive low-carbon economy, so today I am going to talk about where small businesses fit in this picture, some of the work that we’re doing on lifting small business’ digital capability and the value of good cyber security.

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They employ almost a third of our workers, and contribute to over a quarter of our GDP.

Small businesses account for over 97 per cent of all businesses in New Zealand.

We know that with the right mix of ambition, innovation, and support, Kiwi firms can be the best in the world across all spheres of business from the primary sector to the most advanced computer and engineering design firms.

But no matter what the ambitions of our small businesses are, as a Government we are committed to giving every small firm in New Zealand the tools and the confidence to meet their potential, and realise their goals as a business.

When small businesses succeed, everyone in New Zealand benefits.

In order to build a more productive, sustainable and inclusive low-carbon economy, we need to ensure that our small businesses are utilising the latest technology. Having an online presence is one of the first and most important steps that a business can take to grow and internationalise.

One thing we know is that businesses that make more extensive use of the internet are 6 per cent more productive than their industry average.

If our low-internet using firms became more like our high-using firms we could see huge gains in those firms productivity, and through them, the productivity of the economy as a whole.

Stepping into the online world can be a challenge though, especially for small businesses. When a business first gets an online presence they’re immediately open to a whole raft of risks which they previously would not have had to consider.

Risks posed by hackers attempting to steal information or money can be especially serious for small businesses, which may not have the resources to recover from these types of set-backs and disruptions.

When it comes to cyber-safety, prevention is the best defence. That’s why it’s so great to see a resource like Staying Safe Online providing small businesses with the information and resources they need to prepare themselves for the online world.

As well as taking all of the necessary precautions with respect to cyber security, it’s also important that small businesses build their digital capability in a more general sense.

That’s why we’re working hard to help small businesses develop the skills and resources they need to operate in an increasingly digital and global environment.

Business.govt.nz is the primary channel between government and small business in New Zealand. It brings together information from across government to raise awareness of digital tools and help businesses improve their capability to keep pace with technological change.

It has stacks of easy to use tools and advice to help small businesses through just about every milestone in the business’ life.

It also has a fantastic webinar on how small businesses can protect their cyber security.

These tools help simplify life for small business owners, and let people get on with their business. This is government listening to Kiwi firms, and moving to meet their needs.

The New Zealand Business Number or NZBN is another example of great cross-government work, with over 50 government agencies building the NZBN into their systems right now. The NZBN is a globally unique identifier available to all Kiwi businesses.

This will help create a transactional environment where there can be greater certainty to identity, more reliable information, less duplication and more much-needed efficiencies. 

When a business’s details change, it’s quick and easy to update so everyone in their business network can be notified at once, including government. This saves everyone time.

Having an NZBN shows that a business is real, which gives its customers confidence. This is of particular benefit to sole traders, whose businesses weren’t previously included on a government register.

Integrating the NZBN into finance and procurement systems, and other business-to-business interactions, means both the buyer and supplier knows exactly who they’re doing business with. Having access to accurate information about those you’re working with offers you more certainty, meaning you can do business with confidence.

The true potential of the NZBN lies in its power to connect, and I expect many businesses will find clever ways to use this information.

Over time, businesses will use their NZBN to access new digital products and innovations, like e-Invoicing which helps to minimise the risk of fake or compromised invoices.

e-Invoicing is the ability to exchange information between the online accounting software of a supplier and a buyer. It creates economic benefits through better productivity, faster payments and lower transaction costs.

The introduction of e-Invoicing will help ensure businesses are paid on time and improve cash-flow. This will bring significant benefits, in particular for New Zealand’s small businesses.

Making it faster and easier to transact, and making those processes less manual, will mean businesses have significantly more time to get on with the work they’re actually in business to do.

We’re collaborating with the Australian government on e-Invoicing, which will improve efficiencies for business, deliver significant savings for both countries, and improve Trans-Tasman trade.

As Minister for Small Business, I strive to help small businesses better manage their unique challenges and make sure all of government understands the issues they face.

One of my priorities is to improve the way they engage with government in a really proactive way.

It's their feedback, their ideas, which drive the policy development we need. And it's also a constant source of inspiration for me, to hear how they want to grow and create jobs.

It's my job to work with them and all of you to make the job of running a small business easier, not harder. And I am always interested in what you have to say.

Thank you all for your time, and I am happy to answer any questions you may have.