‘Digital by default’ urged for financial services

If technology neutrality and flexibility is built into the regulatory regime then the financial services industry can focus on giving consumers what they want, when they want it and how they want it, according to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA).

The organisation has used a response to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission's (ASIC's) current consultation on facilitating electronic financial services disclosures to argue point to the Australian Taxation Office's "digital by default" approach as the way forward.

"The success of the myGov and myTax initiatives (over three million taxpayers signed up for myTax in the second half of 2014) reflects the desire of consumers to adopt new technologies and their comfort with them," the ASFA response said. "The Government's commitment and support for such an approach is reflected in its December 2014 announcement of the single touch payroll initiative which will be rolled out to employers in 2016."

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However the response went on to say that while the time was right for the adoption of a new technologies and "digital by default" approach for financial services disclosures, the initial move to new technologies might be relatively slow and piecemeal as providers identify, and determine how to mitigate, the emerging risks associated with electronic disclosure.

ASFA noted that ASIC , as part of its broader work on promoting digitisation and the use of new media in improving the effectiveness of financial disclosures, had announced it would work with AMP and Vanguard to develop and user test a short, online "key facts" sheet and a self-assessment too to guide investor understanding.

"ASFA is strongly supportive of this initiative and in particular the commitment to working with consumers to gauge effectiveness," it said. "Consumer testing using robust methodologies is essential to ensure that any change deliver the expected benefits to both consumers and providers and that there is no unintended consequences."

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