NZ e-commerce team wraps up

New Zealand’s Electronic Commerce Action Team (E-cat), which is winding up its two-and-a-half-year life, claims it has been instrumental in improving New Zealand’s e-commerce awareness but said issues such as an underdeveloped telecommunications infrastructure are still holding the country back.

E-cat was founded in the wake of government’s e-commerce summit, in March 2001. Apart from five people appointed to lead the group, 12 members represented industry sectors such as accountancy, local government, farming, trade unions and banking. Its rationale was that it would facilitate and initiate work at the grassroots in key sectors with the idea that there would be spin-off effects into a wide range of industries.

All actions set out early by the team have been implemented, E-cat claims.

These include:

-The implementation of e-certification by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry

-The development of a Center for Critical Infrastructure Protection

-The issue of the New Zealand model code for consumer protection in electronic commerce

-The delivery of e-commerce capability development programs by Industry New Zealand and

Trade New Zealand.

-Through supporting the establishment of a “regional broadband forum,” E-cat played a part in the evolution of the Probe project and a number of regional broadband initiatives.

Between mid-2000 and mid-2002 the number of businesses with their own domain name increased from 33 percent to 60 percent. Over half of businesses are ordering goods or services and over a third selling over the Internet, E-cat said in its final report.

Early in its existence E-cat recruited existing organizations, such as Tuanz, the Bankers’ Association, Federated Farmers and the NZ chambers of commerce, to examine the current status of e-commerce in 11 sectors and create and execute sectoral “action plans.”

Those sector organizations “will continue to carry the e-commerce torch,” said the report, and a number of the initiatives that E-cat has been involved with, such as broadband and the promotion in New Zealand of XBRL (extensible business reporting language), will continue under their own momentum.

A research symposium “ICTs in New Zealand: Consequences and Innovations” was organized in June 2002 by E-cat member Dr Shirley Leitch and brought together government officials and researchers from a number of universities and private organizations. This came out with the statistics on e-commerce growth above and other results, encouraging and otherwise, in New Zealand.

The team led creation of New Zealand’s e-commerce website, which still provides a forum and resource for organizations moving into e-commerce.

“Good progress has been made, but we must not rest on our laurels,” E-cat concludes.

“Further efforts need to be made to increase the (e-commerce) capability of businesses, particularly small businesses, and we encourage the government to continue to work in this area. Work also needs to continue on improving New Zealand’s telecommunications infrastructure to allow people to make the most of the opportunities offered by new technology.”