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Updated: New Zealand’s tech community picks their top trends to look out for in 2019

The Icehouse

The early stage investor’s perspective 

From a macro view, in 2019 we expect to see a continued trend of investor money flowing into the start-up tech sector in New Zealand and an increased interest in the space. This is partly driven by more publicity on the sector and partly by more early wins in 2018 like Halter raising series A from US venture capital and continued growth of young software companies like Ask Nicely and 90 Seconds.

From an industry perspective, over the past few months we have seen a few trends that we expect to play out in 2019:

AML (Anti-Money Laundering) or identity verification

This is largely driven by new AML legislative change requiring professional service providers and financial institutions to verify identity and wealth information about their customers. We are seeing a new industry that will emerge in this space over the coming 12 months and expect to see a few winners in the Identity verification and AML services space. Already we are seeing a sprinkling of new companies launching in this area.

Property tech

Everyone knows Kiwis are obsessed with property, so it’s no surprise we’ve seen a growing trend in “property tech”. Various start-ups are building tools to reduce the cost of sale, identify warm leads for agents, streamline administrative and compliance processes for landlords, tenants, buyers, sellers, agents, and lawyers in the sale or rental of residential property, and using data to identify new property development opportunities or build more efficiently. This could put some pressure on traditional agencies or developers to adopt more new technologies and or change some of the ways they add value to their customers.

Investment tech

Successes like Harmoney, Sharesies and 2017’s cryptocurrency boom (and then bust) have demonstrated that Kiwis are interested in investing in alternative assets and upskilling as investors. This has paved the way for more alternative investment platforms to give every day Kiwis access to investments like commercial property, international shares, cryptocurrencies and these go hand-in-hand with investor education platforms and content. We are expecting to see more of these go mainstream over the next 12 months.

– Barnaby Marshall, seed partner at The Icehouse.


The payment provider’s perspective 

The rise of mobile and wallet payments

The ever-growing demand for easier ways to pay will see mobile payments and digital wallets increase in popularity. Whether its Google Pay, Apple Pay or Online Eftpos (using your mobile phone number to pay rather than remembering a 16 digit card!) consumers and retailers will embrace the mobile (and watch!) to make the art of paying for goods even more seamless.

Camera activated recognition (facial/car)

Innovation will continue to drive retailers to look at innovative ways to take queuing and wait times out of the consumer journey. Z energy will continue to roll out Fast Lane (drive in, pump gas and drive out without ever having to queue or be tempted by the steak and cheese pie!) We will see more NZ businesses (think food) looking at how facial recognition can take the checkout/payment experience (or chore) away totally, allowing consumers to browse, buy/eat and pay without a phone or wallet in sight. 

Open banking

2019 will be the year that businesses and consumers will start to see some of the benefits of Open Banking. Smaller start-ups and FinTechs will be looking to tap into API’s and create new and innovative services for kiwi consumers. Organisations like Kiwi start up AKO.ai are working with established payment experts like Paymark to fast track payment chatbots and voice activated IVR payment solutions. This is about improving customer experiences as well as improving business efficiency and effectiveness.

– Darren Hopper, head of ecommerce, digital experience and marketing at Paymark.


The industry player’s perspective 

Tech growth 

I think we’ll see massive inroads in AR and VR – we’re moving from its infancy days into a lot more growth in useful, intelligent, and interesting products and content. Less talk and hype and much more substance. A little plug here for Wanderer –  a VR time travelling adventure series we’re working on and watch this space on a tourism product we’re launching soon.

Artificial humans

I’m not a fan, way too much uncanny valley for me. But, others are, and this will see massive growth and use here – everything from health to finance to the entertainment sector – we’ll be seeing a lot more of Sophia and her crew.


Less about collection and more about intelligent use. Open and more readily available for people to access and use to drive some worthwhile applications. I think the health sector will start putting this to good use. Figure.NZ are going to be busy. 

Marketing and advertising

Influencers are going to have to start getting serious. I don’t think they’re going anywhere any time soon but it won’t be as easy as it has been and we’ll see a trimming down here for the ones who will promote (just about) anything with growth and stability for the ones who are more single-minded, dedicated to a cause, and has a genuine interest in what they’re promoting. 

Culture and diversity

Less whitewashing, more pride and aroha for one’s culture and heritage and associated culture. 


More robots. Always.

– Sam Ramlu, managing director of Method.

Callaghan Innovation

The innovation agency’s perspective

What’s in store for tech in 2019? It won’t be defined so much by new tech, but a phenomenal range of ever-more-sophisticated applications.

We will see those businesses with access to broad, structured, rich and unique data really benefiting from AI. Fresh data-driven business models will help legal, insurance, manufacturing, digital and agritech sectors flourish. Most exciting is that the democratisation of space technology will enable a totally new dimension of data use.

Look out for rise of the ‘augmented human’ — technology that extends human capability, helping us do things easier, safer and more efficiently. Think about wearable sensors, physical assistance from augmented robotics (exoskeletons), augmented reality support, remote collaboration and automated digital help.

Environmental innovation will rapidly develop to meet global demand. Some important technologies for New Zealand include water quality sensors, alternative proteins and bioplastics.

Finally, if 5G foundations are in place, expect 5G devices capable of much higher speeds and information flows. Huge amounts of data, like high definition video, will move in an instant to power real-time analysis and decision-making. The interaction between humans and smart environments will be smoother and more natural in real time, making new AR innovation possible.

– Jonathan Miller, leader of the Future Insights team at Callaghan Innovation.

Soul Machines

The mechanical engineer’s perspective

2019 is going to be the year where we will see a shift towards hyper personalisation of digital experiences. Everything from the content that is delivered to us, right through to how we interface with machines is going to be tailored to our every need. Just picture your next interaction with your bank online, where they have tailored the interface based on your preferences and make you feel like their most valued customer at every point of the journey.

We have already seen experiences adapted to individual needs, but with the abundance of data along with greater access to tools to analyse it, companies will be able to really take personalisation to a new level.

Along this, the other aspect that we will see growing, is the continued discussion around privacy and ethics. How do we balance the improved experiences without sacrificing our most treasured personal data or having it sold without our permission. There is no simple way to tackle this, but the increase in discussion, debates and awareness, will most certainly lead towards a positive change.

– Elinor Swery, solutions architect at Soul Machines.

Fintech NZ

The industry body’s perspective

  • Regulation changes impacting the incumbent’s ability to focus on innovation.
  • InsureTech will continue to be a focus especially after the rbnz and fma review, less commission based sales equals more transparency.
  • Open ecosystems instead of open banking to move more towards the question about data: who owns it, how do we monitor it and most importantly, protect it.
  • What impact will Brexit have around the world? We are working towards an FTA focused on service offering to the UK, creating transient talent and access to more capital.
  • Intangible assets will become more recognised and insurance products will become more available to protect them we might even see signs of banks lending against it.

– James Brown, general manager for Fintech NZ.

One of the talented Idealog Team Content Producers made this post happen.

Review overview