I've been embarrassed to be a Kiwibank customer - here's why

Kiwibank should stop holding me back and allow me to be a Kiwi with paywave superpowers like almost everyone else, writes Seni Iasona.
Kiwibank should stop holding me back and allow me to be a Kiwi with paywave superpowers like almost everyone else, writes Seni Iasona. Photo credit: Kiwibank

Opinion: I’ve been embarrassed to be a Kiwibank customer and this is why.

The sweet pleasure of paywave has ramped up in recent times with the superpower not just on our Eftpos cards but on our mobile phones too.

As the person in front of me swipes their phone over the Eftpos machine to pay for their long black, I’m behind them embarrassingly fumbling through my pocket to find the trusty old Eftpos card.

Why? Because Kiwibank doesn’t offer the convenient magic of Apple, Google Pay, or digital wallets, it appears to be the only major bank in Aotearoa that doesn't.

I've been a loyal Kiwibank customer for as long as I've been working, but in recent times their slowness to move with the digital times has left me with a bee in my bonnet.

How life could be made easier 

I would predict leaving your wallet behind happens more often than it does with your phone, that would be accurate in my case anyway.

There is nothing worse than getting to the counter, whether at your local Four Square or New World and reaching into your pocket to find nothing but your phone and a tiny ball of lint.

In my case both of these are unhelpful. 

If you don't have digital contactless payment capabilities, your shopping mission is abandoned, leaving the store empty-handed and embarrassed.

And sure it would be my fault for forgetting my wallet, but this could have been avoided if my phone was supercharged by paywave, provided by my bank and I could make the payment.

Just change banks 

There are a couple of weak reasons why I haven't and won't change banks.

I enjoy the name Kiwibank, I'm a Kiwi and that name is relatable. Kiwibank being Kiwi owned is attractive and Kiwibank is generally an easy and great bank to be with.

The most vital point out of my weak arguments is that the admin of changing banks is frightening and totally avoidable, so I will stay.

Instead, Kiwibank should stop holding me back and allow Kiwibank Kiwis to have paywave superpowers like almost everyone else. 

Is the superpower within reach? 

As I opened my email inbox to see what Kiwibank's reply to my list of questions was, I didn't bank on an outcome that I'm so clearly desperate for.

Kiwibank's general manager of retail products Fiona Ehn was the person who made my Friday, the best day of the week, even better.

In a statement, Ehn said the bank has been improving its systems so it is ready to offer digital wallets and other digital services. 

Ehn said the work is very close to being finished and will "pave the way for us to work on implement[ing] digital wallets for our customers".

And it's taken a team to get there. Ehn said several business and tech teams across Kiwibank are "actively working on digital wallets".

Ehn said Kiwibank customers have made it clear that they want digital wallets, especially post-COVID-19. 

Just like me, Ehn is "really looking forward" to the world of digital wallets being at the touch of a finger for Kiwibank customers.

But when? Ehn wouldn't go into the specifics on when Kiwibank Kiwis will have this superpower available, but promised "we are actively working on bringing digital wallets to our customers". 

"We appreciate our customer's patience while we are working on this behind the scenes and know our customers are awaiting progress. We are looking forward to being able to share updates when we can."

So while I eagerly await the arrival of Kiwibank's digital wallets, the Eftpos card will have to do for now. 

Seni Iasona is a digital producer for Newshub.