Kiwibank: In mission mode for a strong digital foundation

Kiwibank is 100% New Zealand-owned and its priorities are in creating a digitally strong banking system:

Kiwibank is the largest New Zealand-owned bank, offering an efficient alternative to the people to the foreign banks operating in the country. It has a record for customer acceptance over other banks, but at one point of time it found that its growth is outpacing the technology infrastructure it had. It reacted swiftly with a bold vision for change and the first thing it did was to rebuild a new core banking platform on the cloud with the U.K.-based Thought Machine’s CBS product.

In addition, the bank also put in place a flexible tech stack to help meet the key requirements of its customers, who were becoming digital savvy. It envisioned to have a system that could offer its customers simple, easy, accessible and tailored solutions.


The bank’s approach was to improve its systems in the short term and in the long term replace them entirely. Its decision to go for cloud-based capabilities was in this direction. That is how the new core banking platform was hosted on the cloud. This strategy ensured that a major part of its existing tech platform could be freed and a majority of the systems were placed on the cloud. The bank was one of the early adopters of cloud technology among banking institutions even as it was a learning phase for it. Today, the bank boasts that it has a best-in-class technology stack among financial services institutions in the country.

The bank had opted for the Genesys Cloud platform and it did not regret.


The first phase of its digital transformation was replacing the legacy contact center systems. It won praises especially during the pandemic when the branches were closed. It engaged Spark NZ as its contact center partner to accelerate the change and deploy a trial of Genesys Cloud in a short possible period of time. It eliminated 5 voice systems and migrated to 550 Cisco Finesse along with 50 toll-free numbers and over 90 call flows.

The bank made use of several of Genesys capabilities, like inbound and outbound voice-based services, which provide skills-based routing, callbacks, voicemail and campaign management. There were also features like consistent pre-recorded disclosures and Google Cloud Text-to-Speech for instant customer in-queue messaging.

The bank also implemented Oration First Contact, which uses natural language speech for customer identification, verification and call steering.


Kiwibank has a strategic partnership with ACI Worldwide, under which the latter has offered its SaaS solution to run a full capability payment hub. The solution is hosed in the Microsoft Azure cloud. The bank’s Chief Product and Strategy Officer Elliot Smith has been quoted as saying: “Due to rapid technological change, many consumers now expect almost everything to be available instantly and the payments system is no exception. The nature of cloud technology means we’ll be able to do things faster and more efficiently, and we’ll be able to deliver those simple and seamless experiences customers now demand.”

The bank will now be able to bring new payment products and services to make faster and add new payment types quickly and cost-effectively using the SaaS solution.

The bank has also collaborated with Snowflake, which has an exclusive financial services data cloud, to ensure timely, accurate and secure access to data. Through this collaboration, the bank could create a single source of data, helping it to overcome its decades-long challenge of data silos, and its teams to understand customers and their needs in a better manner.


One key project the bank took up was with regard to onboarding customers for its credit card. The bank partnered with Equifax and geo-spatial services firm OMD Services to make the credit card screening process inclusive, efficient and transparent. What it uniquely wanted was to ensure that no one in New Zealand need to be rejected for a credit card.

New Zealand had carried out amendments to its Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act, in order to curb predatory lending practices, and this had made it more difficult for banks to process and approve applications. While Kiwibank had compliant pre-screening tools for display and social campaigns, it wanted to extend the power of pre-screening to search. It had known that Equifax’s GeoRisk product analyzes credit risk at a neighbourhood level but it could not provide granular insights. However, Equifax had a hidden tool, which could create radii around specified locations down to just one kilometre and apply media bid weightings to those predetermined areas using Google Search Ads 360. Using this tool and specialist geospatial analysis tools offered by OMD, the bank could identify 200 strategically-placed locations with various radius sizes and custom bid weightings that could be used to intelligently target search ads. It could then ensure a 21% reduction in declined applications and an increase in approval rates by 273%. The bank now plans to use this strategy not just for credit card applications but for other products too.

This article has been compiled based on publicly available information on the web, particularly the bank’s own website.

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Kiwibank: In mission mode for a strong digital foundation