Kiwi financial tech company CoGo aims for 'big success' in thriving industry

Financial technology is thriving in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic and it's set to create hundreds of jobs for Kiwis.

One expat has created an app that helps people track their carbon footprint.

CoGo works by users plugging in values that are important to them in a company, such as whether they sell New Zealand-made products, pay the living wage or are carbon conscious.

Then if you connect it to your bank accounts, it tells you whether the places you're spending your money at are good at these values. Or you can search those details before you go.

CoGo already works with 35 banks in the UK.

CEO Ben Gleisner says he has "big plans" for the company.

"We're looking to hire, I'd say 50 up to 100 people probably in the next 12 months. We want to be one of the big success stories around tech for the country."

He's had "awesome" responses from CEOs, including the likes of NatWest bank, who have told him they've been trying to do something similar.

"They're going to be promoting it to their customer base. They've got 16 million customers so we want to show what New Zealand tech can do both in terms of economic development but ultimately positive improvement in the world," Gleisner said.

Until recently, New Zealand banks didn't have the technology to securely pass on customer's information to the app, but now a launch here is imminent.

"In two weeks' time we go into our first test which is super-exciting. And coming into November most customers should be able to use it," Westpac head of digital ventures Lewis Billinghurst said.

If it weren't for COVID-19, New Zealand might not have reaped the reward of CoGo basing itself back in Wellington.

Back in March when the country was going into lockdown, Gleisner and his family made the quick decision to return from the UK. They packed up their entire family home and got on a flight within four days.

The CEO of FinTech NZ says it's the right place to be. 

"To be honest, FinTech at the moment is absolutely thriving," James Brown said.

He said there's significant investment flowing in from Europe, the UK and wealthy families who want to diversify their portfolio.

But the sector will need more workers, which could benefit people who may have lost their jobs and can upskill quickly. 

"A three-month or six-month - you know quite a fast, hard-track type environment where they can really learn about the tech sector. Combine those sets of skills and actually then really fill that gap that potentially we have in the talent sector," Brown said.

The talent to lead is already here, it's just a matter of finding the manpower to help grow one of the few sectors that has that opportunity during a global pandemic.