David Stevens, chief executive Harmoney Corporation. Harmoney raised new capital and listed on the ASX in 2020 and has big expansion plans for 2021.
How would you describe 2020 for your business?
It was transformative for Harmoney, and we're feeling very proud to have grown a Kiwi start-up company into a mid-sized Trans-Tasman operator that welcomed many new, sophisticated investors onto our share register as part of a successful listing on the ASX and NZX in November.
Our total loan volume surged past $1.8 billion even in the face of a global pandemic which halted many businesses in their tracks. But Harmoney is already tapped into a paradigm shift in consumer behaviour that is convenient, flexible and instant online services – and this also meant we could continue operating and meeting the needs of customers in a time of great uncertainty.
How do you think the Government has handled the Covid-19 crisis?
New Zealand was one of the few countries to eradicate the virus early on. This was a big win for health, but it's still unclear what the longer-term implications are on the economy.
What are two key things the Government should do for economic recovery?
Plan to keep businesses (and borders) open. The trans-tasman bubble needs to open immediately, this will allow New Zealand to test its travel procedures before opening up to higher risk countries in the future. New Zealand will be a significant net winner from this border opening from a tourism perspective as there are plenty of Aussies wanting to travel.
How is your business planning to tackle 2021?
With the fresh funds raising during the IPO process, we've committed to invest back into operations to continue expanding in New Zealand, and in the Australian market where we are less known.
At a high level, we will continue to invest in Harmoney's already-strong technology moat and direct-to-consumer model which will help drive the structural shift toward non-bank lending.
What will be the major challenges and/or opportunities for your industry?
We see massive opportunities in technology, research & development. Traditional banks are losing market share to disrupters who are taking a bigger slice of the combined ~$170b-plus personal lending market in Australia and New Zealand. Consumers want personalisation, and they want reliable, instant services. Our marketing and data science teams are doing some incredibly innovative things with machine learning and AI to make Harmoney's customer experience even more exceptional.
What was the most interesting non-Covid story of 2020?
Most of the world dealing with what it means having negative interest rates.
Where are you holidaying this summer?
Australia's Bondi Beach and Hamilton Island in the Whitsundays. I am an Aussie at heart, having moved across the Tasman with my family to join the Harmoney team in 2019. We are spending this Christmas back in Sydney catching up with family and friends who we haven't seen in a long time! I have a two-year-old and one-year-old whose grandparents were really missing them.
What are your predictions for 2021?
Wallabies to actually win a game at Eden Park.
Harmoney to win the NZ Hi-Tech Award for 2021. We were so proud to be a finalist in 2020 – a huge acknowledgement of Harmoney's disruptive ability in financial products and services.