New Zealand’s ASB Bank has launched a dedicated online Business Hub to support local SMEs through the Covid crisis.
The all-in-one information and advice hub will provide a content repository for SMEs, offering “support, information and tools”, including a cash flow management and digital capability assessment function.
Covid-specific information and assistance for businesses will also be made available through the hub, with tips and tools to assist SMEs through the crisis, including a “New Zealand first” Covid support navigation wizard – much like the Commonwealth Bank’s (ASB’s parent company) own consumer-focused Benefits Finder service – to identify financial support programs companies may be eligible for from both the bank and the NZ Government.
ASB executive general manager business banking, Tim Deane, acknowledged the ongoing challenges facing local businesses in the current climate, noting that a significant number of SMEs had reached out to the bank directly for support and advice during the Covid crisis.
“Over the last few months we have been working closely with businesses across the country and listening to what they need and what they are struggling with. A lot of the same themes were coming up in these conversations and we realised this was something we could help with.
“One of the challenges SMEs tell us they face is having the time to find information and insights they could use to shape their businesses. The ASB Business Hub is designed to curate business knowledge into one place at their fingertips.”
Beyond its “information and advice” component, the Business Hub will also present partner offers for ASB customers, including discounted access to accounting software from Xero and MYOB. Some of ASB’s own tools, including Vonto, a curated daily feed of information about their business, will also be available.
“Our vision for the ASB Business Hub is for it to become a one-stop-shop for New Zealand SMEs wanting to grow, and we’ll be building up the hub over time to reach that goal,” says Deane.
The development of the hub was inspired by the bank’s own research, which found SMEs struggling to find relevant information to help manage their business through the Covid-triggered economic downturn.
Since the Covid-19 outbreak, Deane said more than 10,000 local businesses with cashflow pressures were supported through the bank’s various financial support options.
“This includes $180 million in low interest overdrafts, of principal relief and deferred payments on $5 billion of existing loans,” Deane said.