The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

E-commerce boom gives Chinese bank a Kiwi niche

David Wang, chief executive of the Bank of China New Zealand. Photo /  Greg Bowker
David Wang, chief executive of the Bank of China New Zealand. Photo / Greg Bowker

Bank of China is eyeing the booming Chinese online shopping market as a lucrative niche for its New Zealand operation.

The Asian lending giant's local subsidiary, which launched in November 2014, is playing matchmaker between Kiwi consumer product manufacturers and Chinese e-commerce platforms that can potentially market their goods.

In November the bank invited a group of Chinese e-commerce operators to a seminar in Auckland attended by more than 20 local companies, including Countdown, Ecostore and skincare products maker Antipodes.

Bank of China New Zealand chief executive David Wang said the online shopping market in Asia's biggest economy was evolving rapidly on the back of rising middle class incomes and access to new technology.

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China's Ministry of Commerce expects the country's cross border e-commerce trade to become a US$1 trillion market this year.

"When we first came to New Zealand [in November 2014] I thought we should find some niche markets through which Bank of China could contribute to local businesses," said Wang, a 20-year veteran of the Beijing-based lender.

He said the bank could offer a "one-stop shop" for New Zealand exporters including accounts, cross border remittances, trade finance and renminbi clearing services.

"We want to help these local manufacturers expand their businesses through exporting their products to China."

Wang said he did not see an economic slowdown in China as a risk to growth in the cross border e-commerce trade.

China was simply going through a "transition" period, he said.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Construction Bank have also set up operations in New Zealand recently, part of a wider international expansion by the giants of Chinese finance.

They are aiming to take market share from their well-established, mostly Australian-owned rivals in this country, such as ANZ and BNZ, particularly in the trade banking space.

In its Financial Institutions Performance Survey, released last week, KPMG said competition had been heating up in corporate and commercial lending following the arrival of Bank of China and China Construction Bank in late 2014.

The survey said the two Chinese banks had written over $366 million in loans since entering New Zealand.

"Some [bank] executives have commented on the noticeable impact of their presence in the market in terms of the number of deals and client relationships that they have been a part of," the KPMG report said.

Wang said New Zealand's agriculture industry was another area Bank of China was looking to expand in, including through extending finance to dairy farmers, despite the tough times that sector is currently facing as a result of the commodity slump.

"In terms of farm lending ... we want to explore it, but we lack experience," he said.

- NZ Herald

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