Westpac and accounting & payroll software provider MYOB have launched a joint initiative offering businesses a free website for a year.
Announcing the "GetOnline.co.nz" initiative, the two companies cited MYOB figures showing just under one third of New Zealand businesses have a website even though eight out of 10 New Zealanders use the internet to research products or services before buying. Westpac and MYOB aim to get 10,000 companies, with small and medium sized firms (SMEs) the main target, online within 12 months.
The websites will be built using MYOB's website building software MYOB Atlas. Once the year is up, businesses will pay "no more than" NZ$5 per month to keep their website running through MYOB Atlas. They'll also have to pay about NZ$40 to renew their domain name for a second year. The websites can be cancelled at any time and the business owns the domain name, not MYOB and Westpac.
The GetOnline.co.nz initiative follows a similar one in Australia run by MYOB in partnership with Google, which has been running for just over a year and has seen about 35,000 websites created, MYOB CEO Tim Reed said. MYOB approached Westpac about the New Zealand initiative.
MYOB estimates it can cost anywhere from NZ$1,000 to NZ$20,000 for a company to set up its own website, depending on how sophisticated it is and whether it has the capability to conduct e-commerce.
Westpac CEO Peter Clare told interest.co.nz the bank was making a "modest" investment in the initiative, building on existing payments infrastructure.
"I obviously would hope non-Westpac customers who partake in this trial, and hopefully become customers of MYOB, would consider what Westpac is offering and give us a chance to compete for their regular business banking business," Clare said.
"But on the other hand if that isn't to occur, we think it's the right thing to do for the country."
Clare said GetOnline.co.nz was part of Westpac's "Grow New Zealand" initiative launched in February last year in an attempt to help restore confidence in the economy and "pull the economy forward." See more on Grow NZ here.
"Broadly in our discussions with the Government in terms of their interest in growing New Zealand, I think they hold an interest in what Westpac is doing to," Clare added. "It's number one good for the country, but number two the knock on effect for us, of course, is we end up with more customers who are viable in business and do business with Westpac."
He said Westpac was planning for a continuation of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth ranging from the high 1% range to 3% in "the coming period."
Westpac and MYOB estimate there are 457,000 SMEs in New Zealand with these providing 30.7% of employment and 39.8% of GDP.
(Update adds further detail).