In the 1882 text, New Zealand Revisited, Falconer Larkworky noted Auckland's recent development. Impressed, he made a specific mention of the telephone being in active operation. The technology had not long arrived in New Zealand but soon became a staple of business environments.
A century later, telephone-based customer services were becoming widespread and expected. VISA credit cards in the 1980s had introduced telephone support for customers and 1991 saw the establishment of 'Personal Banking Telephone Services'. PBTS offered basic banking services such as funds transfers, account balances, interest and foreign exchange rates. More complex questions were passed onto branch staff.
The opening of the ‘BNZ Telebusiness Centre’ in 1993 signalled a shift in banking culture. Telebusiness was separate to PTBS as a more 'product focused' service. Rather than responding to queries, staff were employed to contact customers by phone and inform them of special offers available. Their first campaign offered AutoLife insurance policy holders the opportunity to upgrade to Lifecare and saw staff contact 12,000 customers nationwide.
In 1997 an expanded range of telephone based services was formally introduced. Dubbed, ‘Direct Banking’, this launched on June 19th. Interestingly, this was 10 days after the BNZ's first website went live.
Services of Direct Banking included the ability to organise a mortgage, arrange a term deposit, set up general insurance and update contact details. Chief Manager Direct Banking Kelly Moore explained that careful research leading up to the opening of Direct Banking had shown it would appeal to a range of customers. This included people living in remote parts of the country, those who valued convenience or who travelled regularly.
To access these services, customers were required to sign up and set a card and pin number which would securely identify them. If an application form was required for a particular service, these could be faxed or mailed to customers for completion. The original telebusiness, which by then had made a name change to ‘24-hour Telephone Banking’ continued to offer basic services such as account balances while Direct Banking established itself.
With the exception of fax use which has been replaced by email these services and security measures are similar to the phone services which continued to be offered today.