New Zealand

Introduction

 

About New Zealand

New Zealand is ranked by the World Bank as the easiest country in the world in which to do business and as the third-freest economy in the world, according to the Heritage Foundation.

Flexible licensing and established labour laws and regulatory frameworks have positioned New Zealand as one of the world's most efficient and competitive entrepreneurial environments. This is further enhanced by a competitive financial sector which offers advanced, sophisticated financial instruments to boost business activity. Trade openness, supported by low tariff rates and few barriers to foreign investment, have also made New Zealand an attractive destination for trade and investment.

The historic signing of the Australia-New Zealand Closer Economic Relations (CER) Trade Agreement strengthened economic ties between the two countries across innumerable sectors. Labour market regulations have been eradicated between the two countries, allowing free labour mobility, while many other areas of regulation – aviation, healthcare and food safety, for example – have been standardised to form a Single Economic Market (SEM). China is New Zealand's largest trading partner, followed by Australia.

 

New Zealand Market Profile Infographic_small

What solutions are available in New Zealand?

Solution Description
Interest Optimisation Maximise your interest yield from for your balances held with the bank.
Notional Pooling Cash balances in different accounts are notionally offset to derive the net balance, which is then used to calculate interest.
Sweeping/ Zero Balance Account (ZBA) ZBA are checking accounts with zero balances where funds are physically swept to eliminate excess balances and maintain greater control over disbursements.
Intercompany loans Similar to bank loans, intercompany loans refer to lending between entities within the same group.

Corporate Treasury in New Zealand

New Zealand has well developed financial markets, sound banks and a business-friendly economy. Here we highlight some of the key benefits relevant to treasury and cash management.

 

Financial Market Development

  • The World Economic Forum ranks New Zealand 26th in the world for its financial systems in The Global Competitiveness Report 2018.
  • It ranks New Zealand ninth in the world for the soundness of its banks, whilst it rates the country third for its low level of non-performing loans and eighth for the availability of domestic credit to the private sector.
  • New Zealand has good business infrastructure, an educated English-speaking workforce and a sound legal environment.
  • There are no foreign-exchange controls in New Zealand.

 

Sophistication of Banking Systems

  • There are 26 registered banks in New Zealand, 11 of which are branches of foreign banks.
  • New Zealand’s foreign-exchange market has an average daily turnover of USD9.27 billion, accounting for 0.1% of global turnover (Bank for International Settlements Triennial Central Bank Survey 2019).
  • The size of New Zealand’s debt market has more than doubled in the past decade, with both government and corporate bonds available. Non-resident entities can also issue bonds in New Zealand dollars, known as Kauri bonds. Outstanding bonds with a value of NZD29.38 billion are listed on the NZX Debt Market.

 

Regulatory Bodies

  • The banking industry is regulated by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, which is also the country’s central bank. Regulations are in line with international standards.

 

Tax

  • The corporate income tax rate is 28%.
  • Resident companies are taxed on worldwide income whilst non-resident companies are taxed on New Zealand-sourced income.
  • Profits from the branch of a foreign company are taxed at the same rate as a resident company’s profits. There is no branch profits remittance tax on the remittance of profits to the head office by the branch of a foreign company.
  • The standard rate for Goods and Services Tax (GST) is 15% with certain goods and services being zero-rated whilst others are exempted.
  • Interest expenses that are used for business purposes are generally tax-deductible. However, the deductibility of the interest is restricted when the company’s allowable debt level exceeds the safe harbour debt-to-asset ratio.
  • There are no stamp duties in New Zealand.
  • Withholding tax (WHT) is charged at 33% on certain types of dividends, and at 28% on interest earned by resident companies. For non-resident companies where no tax treaty is in place, WHT of 0%, 15% or 30% is charged on dividends and 15% on interest. Where a tax treaty is in place and the non-resident can provide the Certificate of Residence, WHT ranges from 0% to 15% for dividends and 0% to 15% for interest.
  • New Zealand has tax treaties with 40 countries and territories.
  • New Zealand is a signatory to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Multilateral Competent Authority Agreement, through which information is exchanged between tax administrations, to provide a single, global picture on some key indicators of economic activity within multinational enterprises.

 

Benefits for Regional Treasury Centres

  • New Zealand has well-developed financial markets.
  • It offers proximity to fast-growing Asian markets, and has no currency controls.
  • New Zealand has one of the least regulated free-market economies in the OECD, with a sound business infrastructure and a strong rule of law.
  • It is a member of the Asian Payment Network, a common payment settlement platform within the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Domestic and cross-border notional pooling and cash concentration is permitted.
 

Banking

Banking System

  • There are 26 registered banks in New Zealand (all banks must be registered with the Reserve Bank of New Zealand), 11 of which are branches of foreign banks. In addition, there are 25 non-bank deposit-takers, which include credit unions and finance companies.
  • The banking sector is dominated by Australian-owned banks, with the four largest banks in New Zealand being: ANZ New Zealand, Bank of New Zealand, ASB Bank and Westpac New Zealand. Together they control 86% of total assets.

 

Bank Accounts

  • Residents and non-residents may hold foreign and domestic currency accounts both domestically and overseas. Domestic currency accounts are freely convertible into foreign currency.
  • Interest is available to savings and current accounts as well as demand deposit accounts.

 

Legal and Regulatory

  • The Reserve Bank of New Zealand's Prudential Supervision Department oversees the banking sector.
  • The core payment systems are regulated by a self-governing body, Payments NZ Ltd, an industry-led regulator set up by New Zealand’s main banks. The payments systems it governs are the bulk electronic clearing system (BECS), consumer electronic clearing system (CECS), high value clearing system (HVCS) and paper clearing system (PCS). There are currently 13 participant banks and 35 members who are payment providers.
  • A company is resident if it is incorporated in New Zealand or is managed or controlled in New Zealand.
  • Foreign-exchange controls are not applied in New Zealand.
  • Anti-money laundering and counterterrorism-finance legislation is in place and investigations are overseen and conducted by the New Zealand Police Financial Intelligence Unit (NZP-FIU), which is also a member of the Egmont Group.
  • New Zealand is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

 

Payments

Payment Systems

ESAS

(Exchange and Settlement Account System)

New Zealand's Real-time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system

  • Operated by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (Reserve Bank).
  • ESAS is undergoing a replacement programme which began in April 2016 and is ongoing.
  • There are 20 participants, including the Reserve Bank.
  • Licensed banks require ESA accounts with the Reserve Bank. Non-bank financial institutions may be permitted an ESAS account subject to conditions.
  • Settles transactions in real time and with immediate finality across participant banks' ESAS accounts at the Reserve Bank.
  • Settles transactions using SWIFT from the HVCS in real time through ESAS.

HVCS

(High-Value Clearing System)

Electronic high value exchange and settlement system

  • Operated by Payments NZ.
  • There are 13 participants, with support from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
  • Processes high value and urgent NZD-denominated electronic credit transfers.
  • The Reserve Bank supports the use of HVCS for transactions exceeding NZD1 million.
  • Payment instructions use SWIFT messages.
  • Settlement of transactions processed by the HVCS done across participants' ESAS account at the Reserve Bank through ESAS.
  • Settlement requests are sent between HVCS participants through ESAS-SWIFT using SWIFT FinCopy.

BECS

(Bulk Electronic Clearing System)

Bulk electronic exchange and settlement system

  • Operated by Payments NZ.
  • There are 10 direct bank participants, with support from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
  • Processes low value electronic retail transactions (such as recurring direct debits).
  • BECS is a Settlement before Interchange (SBI) system.
  • Transactions are processed in the next clearing period. Five daily settlements between banks ensures payments are settled same day and through ESAS before they are exchanged between the sending and receiving bank.

CECS

(Consumer Electronic Clearing System)

Exchange and settlement system

  • Operated by Payments NZ.
  • There are nine direct bank participants, with support from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
  • Processes banks' proprietary debit card payments (EFTPOS) as well as mobile payments utilising the SBI infrastructure.
  • CECS is a Settlement before Interchange (SBI) system.
  • Transactions are processed in the next clearing period. Five daily settlements between banks ensures payments are settled same day and through ESAS before they are exchanged between the sending and receiving bank.

PCS

(Paper Clearing System)

Paper-based exchange and settlement system

  • Operated by Payments NZ.
  • There are eight direct bank participants, with support from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
  • Processes cheque payments and all MICR-encoded paper-based payment instruments.
  • PCS is a Settlement before Interchange (SBI) system.
  • Transactions are processed in the next clearing period. Five daily settlements between banks ensures payments are settled same day and through ESAS before they are exchanged between the sending and receiving banks.

 

 

Payment Instruments

Credit Transfers

  • Are only automated.
  • High-value and urgent credit transfers are cleared and settled through HVCS in real time.
  • Low-value, non-urgent and bulk-credit transfers are cleared through BECS same day.
  • Used for payroll, supplier and third-party transactions.

 

Direct Debits (auto debits)

  • Available for low-value, regular payments such as utility bills.
  • Processed through BECS same day.

 

Card Payments

  • Credit and debit cards are the most popular modes of payment by volume, with contactless payments – ‘tap and go’– experiencing the strongest growth with use by 73% of New Zealanders.
  • The main credit card brands are Visa and MasterCard, with American Express and Diners Club also in circulation. They are cleared by their own international card schemes.
  • Debit and credit card payments are cleared through CECS.
  • There are two EFTPOS network providers: Paymark (which processes 75% of EFTPOS transactions) and EFTPOS New Zealand (which processes the remaining 25%).
  • Paymark is the national payment network operated by the big four Australian-owned banks: Westpac, ANZ, BNZ and ASB.
  • New Zealand Post offers reloadable e-purse card schemes.

 

Online Payments

  • The Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013 (FMC Act) took an early position on financial technology (fintech) companies by allowing flexibility and innovation and supporting online capital-funding options within the financial markets. This relinquished the need for a regulatory sandbox.
  • The Financial Markets Authority is overseeing developments in the fintech sector.
  • Digital wallets are increasing in popularity, but credit and debit cards continue to be the most common mode of payment with 56% of e-commerce payments being by bank card and 22% by digital wallet. Popular digital wallets are Android Pay and Apple Pay, and local providers are ANZ’s goMoney Wallet and ASB Virtual Wallet.
  • Mobile payments have had a relatively slow initial uptake; however, they are fast increasing in popularity with payments made by mobile apps, such as Square and Apple Pay, and wearable devices, such as FitBit Pay and Garmin Pay.

 

Digital Currencies

  • Persons working in New Zealand cryptocurrency markets or services are required to abide by the FMC Act and, with respect to anti-money laundering, the Financial Service Providers (Registration and Dispute Resolution) Act 2008. The Financial Markets Authority classifies exchanges, wallets, deposits, broking and ICOs as financial services that fall under the FMC Act.
  • Cryptocurrencies are not legal tender.

 

Cash, Cheques and Money Orders

  • According to the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, contrary to cashless trends, the amount of cash in general circulation continues to grow.
  • However, cheque usage is in significant decline, more than halving in five years with a monthly total of 1.5 million cheque transactions in October 2018 (Payments NZ, 2018), as electronic payments become increasingly popular for both high- and low-value transactions.
  • Cheques are truncated and then processed through the PCS.
  • Intrabank cheques can be cleared in real time or within 24 hours (depending on the bank) and interbank cheques can take up to three days.
  • New Zealand’s PostShop offers Western Union remittance services for international money orders, but no longer sells domestic money orders.
 

Demographics

New Zealand Market Profile Infographic

1 (Progressive) max rate for incomes over NZD70,000

 

Recent developments

 

New Zealand Mulls Open Banking

New Zealand is continuing to explore the adoption of open banking, which would create a more transparent and competitive financial services sector. Open banking makes it easier for consumers to compare different products and switch between providers. James Brown, general manager of FintechNZ, has been working with counterparts in the UK to understand the barriers and opportunities around open banking. Brown is also working to promote fintech cooperation between the two countries.

Read more about the development here.

 

Central Bank Looks to Protect Cash

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is considering taking steps to ensure the public has access to a reliable source of cash for as long as it is needed. Although the use of cash is declining, some people remain heavily reliant on it and want to continue to be able to use it as a payment method, according to a consultation carried out by the central bank. The bank is consulting on whether legislative change giving it the power to promote a future-focused cash system, including setting standards for cash machines and requiring banks to provide cash withdrawals, is needed.

Read more about the development here

 

Consumer Protection Regulation Enhanced

Legislation backing new regulations for financial institutions, including a ban on target-based sales incentives, is set to be introduced in parliament soon. Under the new regime, the Financial Market Authority will have the power to force institutions to change their behaviour and improve their systems if they are not meeting specific standards of consumer treatment. If institutions fail to comply, they can have the conditions of their licence varied or suspended. They will also face strong financial penalties for breaching their obligations.

Read more about the development here

 

Cryptocurrency Tax Rules Come into Force

The Inland Revenue Department has published new rules approving the payment of salaries in cryptocurrencies and setting out how tax on these earnings will be calculated. The ruling, which will be in effect for three years, provides clarification for both individuals and companies on handling tax for permanent employees whose salaries are paid in cryptocurrencies. Under the rules, only certain cryptocurrencies can be used for salaries, payments must be subject to an employment agreement and the cryptocurrency must be readily convertible into a traditional, government-backed currency.

Read more about the development here

 

This Market Profile is brought to you by DBS. Get in touch with us for further insights on doing treasury in New Zealand and take advantage of our innovative solutions to empower your business. Click here to find out more.

 

 

Sources: World Bank, Heritage Foundation, CIA World Factbook, World Economic Forum, PwC, NZX Debt Market, Reserve Bank of New Zealand, Bank for International Settlements, Deloitte, DBS, Payments NZ, Mastercard, J.P. Morgan

The information herein is published by DBS Bank Ltd. (“DBS Bank”) and is for information only. The information is assembled based on information available and accurate as at Oct 2019.

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