Today the New Zealand Ministry of Health launched its own Covid Tracing App called NZ Covid Tracer. While it seems like a great initiative, a number of issues have already emerged.
The initial problems with downloading the app will eventually get fixed, but the biggest concerns will remain.
Unlike some of the other countries in the world, trust in the government is not at the same level where everyone will want to download the app right away. In doing so, the Government has also, rather carelessly, tried to eliminate the market for commercial services such as ours. While any remarks about this are bound to fall on deaf ears, it is important that people considering this app understand the deliberate and anti-competitive action taken by the Ministry of Health today.
The first thing many people will argue is “this is about health, not business” – but so should be the argument about how prices across the board have been increasing by a few percentage points here and there. You can’t tell me that the price of potatoes went up just because there aren’t enough people picking potatoes in the farm. Demand hasn’t fallen. Supply hasn’t fallen… just that there’s a bottleneck with the distribution piece. So everyone is commercialising this Covid-19 situation, and many businesses, like ours, took the initiative to bring out something that was desperately needed in the market. Our customers love it. Our pricing isn’t excessive (unlike the Rippl app which was charging $35/location until hours ago, and was heavily promoted by Ashley Bloomfield today.)
Why didn’t the government allow an open forum discussion about building general standards that all solution providers should have been asked to comply with? Why didn’t the government create an open market for these solutions? Why did they take this deliberate stand and tried to eliminate other providers form the market? And most importantly, why did they show favour toward Rippl and not others?
CovidTracing is a solution that all our customers have heralded as being a blessing because of how simple and easy it is to use. Our technology works on the basis of scanning a QR code that’s generated for the business by simply scanning it from the camera on a smartphone. Sounds familiar? Except that we came to the market long before the rest of the guys.
It will soon become evident whether or not the Covid Tracer app is a success. However, in order to make the market for such solutions fair and square, the Government MUST allow CovidTracing to connect it’s QR code system to MBIE’s QR code system.