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Last week, in my role as Chair of the Digital Council for Aotearoa New Zealand, I was delighted to meet with the Hon Dr David Clark whose new portfolios include Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Digital Economy and Communications, and Statistics.
We had an engaging discussion on creating a prosperous nation underpinned by technology. This discussion crossed all three of my roles as Chair of NZTech, FinTechNZ and the Digital Council. It was very clear from our conversation how fundamentally, these portfolios are intrinsically linked. This position provides us with immense potential to help connect community, industry and Government. Facilitating this connection will help accelerate and improve the application of technology for New Zealand’s benefit.
One of the reasons David first stood for Parliament was because he was concerned about inequality and the growing wealth gap. He believes we must achieve a fairer society where everyone has an opportunity to succeed. For this reason, Minister Clark places a strong emphasis on inclusion in the digital economy and doesn’t want to leave anyone behind. This fits well with the Digital Council’s inclusion work focus for next year.
He also wants to fully understand the true reach and impact of the tech sector and acknowledges it is more than simply tracking revenues. I shared my views on how the tech industry is fast to create new intellectual property (IP) and other intangible assets. For example, a traditional asset, like land, is valuable, but limited by physical boundaries. Meanwhile, digital assets have unlimited global (and often exponential) value, and New Zealand has the opportunity to harness this potential.
While it is essential we measure the size and growth of the tech sector, we discussed the sector on a holistic level. We touched on numerous important topics, including digital identity, e-commerce and open banking. Plus, in the coming years, how we approach artificial intelligence (AI) and data ownership will define New Zealand’s future. The Digital Council will be taking recommendations to the Minister in December regarding trust in automated decision-making from its year-long research.
We also explored how the tech sector and digital technologies align with traditional industry sectors. For example, the partnership of technology and financial services has created the entirely new sector. Fintech innovation has helped traditional financial services develop new revenue models and attract new customers. It also offers efficiencies and scalability. There are numerous other examples of tech playing a transformative role across all sectors.
It was obvious to me that the Minister is interested in connecting with industry and this presents an exciting moment to leverage a strong working relationship. Working with Minister Clark, I strongly believe we have a significant opportunity to further develop New Zealand as a leading digital nation.
NZTech has also welcomed Ministers with the publication of our Briefing to Incoming Ministers: Creating a socially and economically prosperous New Zealand underpinned by technology. The briefing includes recommendations for action in the immediate and mid-term.
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