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Tech Evolution- A Knight In Shining Armour Amidst COVID-19

Technological innovations have stimulated the economic recovery of New Zealand – a strong learning model for the world given its early virus containment success while coronavirus catastrophe has wreaked havoc on global economies and financial markets. COVID-19 has ushered in a ‘golden age of technology’ where businesses are utilising the digital prowess to smooth their journey amidst the pandemic.

This unprecedented crisis has witnessed a paradigm shift in technological regime with companies gradually transforming their business models to adapt to the new normal where ‘go digital’ is no longer an option but a requirement for survival.

Grabbing the international headlines, New Zealand has set the benchmark high in containing the spread of coronavirus, followed by phased opening of the economy. Its eased Level 2 Alert lockdown has accelerated business activity in the country, with reopening of many businesses in line with regulatory guidelines and adequate safety measures in place.

Besides, NZ policymakers have been on their toes to implement several monetary and fiscal measures to grease the wheels of economic revival and alleviate the impending economic crunch. The Budget 2020 further strengthened the hopes for reduction in unemployment and early restoration of the economy to its pre-Covid glamour.

Given all these efforts at different fronts, technology undoubtedly stands at the centre of this battle to achieve the early revival of economy. Let us look at how the adoption of latest tech-disruptions created a transformational change and what lies ahead in the future.

  • Digital Payments

‘Easy-to-pay’ online transactions have been the backbone to sustain the uninterrupted monetary flow during the lockdown. The popularity of fintech platforms has spiked to significant levels for their hassle-free approach in e-commerce that has gained momentum in a bid to avoid physical and social contact. Meanwhile, the fintech companies raised the game by security-centric measures that minimise the threat of digital transactional attacks.

Leveraging the buoyed demand for digital payments, New Zealand-based investment company Bolton Equities invested 21.4 million USD into Verteva - an Australian fintech startup. In a similar event, NZ-based TracPlus raised $5 million in Series A funding from Movac.

  • Tech-Oriented Collaborations

The restrictive operating conditions nudged the business players to leverage technological competencies through strategic partnerships and alliances. The tech-centric solutions worked as a catalyst to the ongoing activities, facilitating the real-time connectivity as businesses streamlined their operations. Many companies joined hands with the businesses that have digital business models for fuelling innovation and ensuring cash flow amidst the lockdown.

Reffind Limited, which provides SaaS solution in Australia and New Zealand entered into licenced agreement with International Biometrics Pte Ltd (InterBIO), allowing the company to utilize InterBio’s Reward and Recognition Platform WooBoard. Moreover, Ubiquitome has collaborated with Swiss headquartered DKSH for marketing and selling its Liberty16, which is a PCR COVID-19 fast tester.

  • Supply Chain Remodelling

Technological capabilities have been utilised to eliminate the demand-supply discrepancies that skyrocketed for some time given the panic buying of the consumers. The tech solutions applied on the logistics and procurement are mostly centric to the real-time tracking for timely and efficient deliveries while reducing costs. Eco sustainability further continues to effectively drive the supply chain movement.

For instance, Port Otago of New Zealand is utilising the Aware’s Group AI-based noise monitoring system for containing the noise. Furthermore, Microsoft has highlighted its plan to build data centres in New Zealand, which would provide significant boost to product tracking in the logistics.

  • Telecommunication Reinforcing Tech-Adoption

The increased demand for high-speed internet and effective data plans remained evident to empower businesses and support greater use of OTT channels. On the entertainment front, the demand for online streaming services has surged driven by immense digital content consumption by the people confined to their homes.

The online education and remote working further spurred a seismic change in the communication approach adopted especially for official interactions. Besides the utilisation of cloud-based platforms, businesses have conspicuously incorporated several tele and video-conferencing software platforms.

Leveraging rising opportunities in the telecom space, Vodafone New Zealand has renewed partnership with the Australian Soprano Design which is expected to further facilitate the demand growth for cloud-based mobile messaging services. Meanwhile, Spark New Zealand Limited (NZX: SPK) plans to launch 5G services across many centres.

  • Rising Medical Technology

Healthcare sector, which has been at the forefront during fight against the pandemic, has been developing revolutionary technologies to discover a potential vaccine that could treat the contagious coronavirus.

While innovative telehealth consultations remained the tip of the iceberg, several health care giants focussed on artificial intelligence and robotics to change the face of the sector in coming few years.

For instance, ManageMyHealth has been working towards the reduction of infection risk through pre-screening appointments and video consultations. Meanwhile, the NZ government is working with several prescribers and primary care providers to collaborate with the messaging channel NZ ePrescription Service (NZePS) that would allow the exchange of prescription information electronically.

Market Performance

Technology sector has shown robust growth amidst pandemic outbreak, with S&P/NZX All Information Technology posting QTD return of 72.09% as on 20 May 2020.

Looking at prominent players in the space, stock price of Pushpay Holdings Limited (NZX: PPH) rose by over 72% in the past one month to close at $7.240 on 20 May 2020. Besides, Scott Technology Limited (NZX: SCT) has generated a return of ~ 12% over last  month to $1.890.

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