Dollar dives as sharemarket keeps rising
Insurance firm to use chat-bots
based offshore, rather than here) tend to be very fickle. They are better described as speculators, rather than investors, and their view can be extremely short term.
Comments around foreign ownership restrictions or potential fine-tuning of the Reserve Bank Act have seen them lose interest in us, and move on to the next opportunity elsewhere in the world.
The sharemarket, on the other hand, has a much greater proportion of longer-term investors. That includes KiwiSaver funds, private investors and other groups who still have confidence in our listed companies’ ability to perform well, regardless of who is in charge of the Beehive.
We should also remember currency movements aren’t all about us. We are only one side of that equation, so often the moves we see have just as much to do with what is happening in the United States, Britain or Europe as in New Zealand.
Economic data has been stronger than expected in all of those places during recent weeks, and we might see a couple of global central banks raise interest rates soon in response.
These factors have given support to the likes of the British pound and the US dollar, which has compounded the weakness we’ve seen in the local currency.
Many companies on our market have a large international aspect to their businesses these days. Think Fisher & Paykel Healthcare,
There is a general expectation that economic growth might slow a little amidst policy changes, which means less upward pressure on local interest rates.
Mainfreight and Xero, where the bulk of revenues come from offshore.
There are plenty more with significant export earnings. Scales, Tourism Holdings, Vista — the list goes on. All these companies will be quite happy with what they’ve seen on the currency front lately, because this NZ dollar weakness equates to increased profitability.
Finally, there is a general expectation that economic growth might slow a little amidst policy changes, which means less upward pressure on local interest rates. With the average gross dividend yield for the NZX 50 comfortably above 5 per cent, much of our market will continue to find support. A Kiwi start-up insurance company plans to use chat-bot technology to allow people to apply for insurance and make a claim via their mobile phone.
Chat-bots are computer programs that mimic conversation with people using artificial intelligence.
They aim to transform the way you interact with the internet from a series of self-initiated tasks to a quasi-conversation.
Andrew Coon, chief executive and one of three co-founders of Cove Insurance, wants to use the technology to move insurance from being a series of form-filling exercises to a much more user-friendly experience.
Coon, who is the son of Chris Coon who helped found New Zealand life insurers Sovereign and Partners Life and is on the board of the start-up, said and he and his brother Rob, another co-founder, grew up around insurance.
But more recently the brothers had come back from Europe where they were with insurance start-up Finance Fox and they were looking to use a technology approach to insurance.
The pair point to the success of US insurance start-up Lemonade, which has used chat-bot technology to speed up claims.
Coon said consumer research pointed to claims being both the best and worst thing about dealing with insurers.
Lemonade promises to pay out claims within three seconds and Coon believes Cove Insurance will be able to offer the same service here for straightforward claims.
The company plans to launch in the first quarter of next year and will focus on car, house and contents insurance, with an initial focus on one of those areas.
Coon said it hoped to use a lot of artificial intelligence technology, including image recognition. Photos of people would allow the company to identify customers, and work out their age and general health.
Photos of contents could help with working out what an item was worth and with stopping dishonest claims.
Coon said Cove hoped to tap into the growing number of people who did not want to speak to a person on the phone, although clients would be able to speak to somebody if they wanted to.
The fall in the NZ dollar’s value reflects the fickle tendencies of currency traders.