Fintech is often viewed as a disruptive factor for superannuation funds. When you consider where fintech firms have concentrated their activity in Australia, it is clear they have singled out more lucrative industries, such as the retail sector.

With tech giants such as Google and Amazon yet to turn their full attention towards Australia’s superannuation industry, it opens up many opportunities for super funds to start looking at how fintech can help them gain a competitive edge. The stage is set for super funds to become more proactive and customer-focused financial institutions. Core to this is harnessing the power of APIs.

The rise of APIs in Australian finance
Banks across Australia are already using APIs to enhance their online offering, with third-party developers engaging specific datasets (ATM locations for example) to create better user experience. Just think Google Maps plugins, or custom apps that can calculate foreign exchange rates for consumers.
At its core, APIs enable businesses to customise their user experience in ways they couldn’t on their own, leveraging another company’s assets to the benefit of their own customer base. Those are benefits that extend to the superannuation industry.

How super funds can benefit from APIs
By leveraging APIs, super fund providers gain greater capability and strengthen their product and service offering to customers. An API lets funds integrate multiple plugins at the back-end that enhance what members can do through their website, including:

Multi-device access
Next-generation API technology enables super funds to create an online members-only portal that can be accessed from any device. Users can log in, see their full super fund details, create customised calculators and much more – no matter where they are. Funds can deliver push notifications to devices to remind members of key dates, or when certain statements are ready to access.

Real-time market information
Using an API means you can adopt third-party plugins that enable access to real-time information – critical for members with high-level needs or engagement. Fund balances, live stock market updates and currency values are constantly changing. By using an API, your organisation can capture every single change for its members and employees.

Online transaction capability
A next-generation API will allow your member portal to contain efficient, secure systems for transactions. Non-concessional contributions, tax payments, fund transfers, redemption processes or general investment changes – customers can do it all.

CRM integration
Research from PricewaterhouseCoopers shows that some 40 per cent of business decisions are largely driven by data. In the superannuation sector, understanding your members through data analytics and customising the user experience to match your insights is fundamental to success.

APIs can help achieve this. By integrating with third-party CRM and analytics platforms, funds can cut out significant capital expenditure and cut straight to incisive, in-depth analysis of their customer base and how they engage with the member portal.

This kind of insight also applies to your internal processes. Use of the right APIs can enhance workflow optimisation and productivity, driving profitability for the long-term.

Advanced API tactics for a competitive market

The very best in API technology can give funds capabilities that others are well behind on. By getting ahead of the curve and implementing next-generation technology, super funds can:

Integrate voice technology
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced in a Q3 2017 report that the company had sold tens of millions of Alexa devices, integrated with manufacturing giant BMW, and released five new integrable devices. Voice is rapidly replacing text as the search of choice, and ensuring your super fund has this capability can introduce a massive competitive edge.

Seamless machine-to-human transition
APIs are the foundation on which automation is built, but super fund members will still need to engage with your staff for complex questions or tailored advice. The right API can facilitate seamless transition between, say, an AI chat bot and a member of your support team, while your member portal can also function as a direct line to these staff. Top-end APIs can even trigger follow-up interactions, delivering tailored advice based on specific inputs.

Creating a living experience
User experience is critical, particularly for retirees who need to engage their super fund without necessarily having the digital literacy to navigate a complex system. Voice activation, simple customer-facing interfaces and the ability to transition between AI and human interaction without delay creates an organic living experience for the end user.

For simple super fund portals, user engagement is akin to using an ATM – pressing some buttons, getting an information display and leaving. With a complex API and all the plugins this introduces, interactions with a super fund portal become a true conversation.

The big guns in the API sphere have yet to focus on the super industry. By getting out ahead of the Googles and Amazons of the world and utilising next-generation APIs, you can deliver a super fund experience well beyond your competition.

About the author

Scott Kendall

Product Manager, Superannuation, APAC

Scott Kendall has over 15 years experience in the Australian superannuation industry. Having held various senior positions, he has an extensive understanding of the superannuation landscape in Australia, with experience in allocated pension products, insurance contracts, unit pricing processes and managing the transition of superannuation funds across administration platforms.

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