Monday, 16 September 2019 11:42

CommBank app can now help customers find unclaimed benefits

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The Commonwealth Bank has made changes to its app so that customers can now track down any unclaimed benefits, rebates and concession payments.

In a statement, the CBA claimed that Australians were missing out on more than $10 billion in this way.

Asked how this figure was arrived at, a CBA spokesperson told iTWire: "The $10 billion figure is a conservative estimate from a number of national and global academic reports. Our own CBA data and testing from the new feature roughly estimates $12 billion to $70 billion goes unclaimed annually.

"From our analysis, the most money is left on the table where the benefit is available nationally, with a wide range of eligibility criteria, and is of higher value. As a result income assistance usually ends up being the highest claimed (in dollar terms) but also the most being missed out.

"Examples of this include assistance like Parental Leave, Carers Allowances, Age Pension, Crisis payments and Disability payments."

The new feature in the app is titled Benefits finder and is claimed to be able to connect the user to more than 250 potential benefits.

"We’re determined to help our customers claim the benefits and rebates they are entitled to," said Pete Steel, chief digital officer.

"Collectively these can add up to a significant amount per household, leaving more money to help pay for everyday expenses and to save for the things that matter.

“Whether it’s claiming a car registration rebate or money off a utility bill, Benefits finder uses data capability and machine learning to put potential entitlements in front of customers at the right time, and then nudges them to start a claim.

“Our data shows there are some large amounts people are entitled to with many unaware of what they can claim. Making it easier for our customers to see what they may be entitled to is just one way we are working to improve our customers’ financial well-being.”

The bank said it had been working with the Harvard Sustainability Transparency Accountability and Research (STAR) Lab to understand how it could help customers manage their money.

It added that Professor Michael Hiscox and his team at Harvard’s STAR Lab had evaluated Benefits finder, examining ways to optimise it so that it had the largest positive impacts.

The top 20 benefits in the app are:

  • ASIC Unclaimed Money
  • Parental Leave Pay
  • Dad and Partner Pay
  • Carer Allowance
  • Child Care Subsidy
  • Education Entry Payment
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Family Tax Benefit
  • Newstart Allowance
  • Disability Support Pension
  • Adult Migrant English Program
  • Home Care Package
  • Youth Allowance
  • Australian Government Hearing Services Program
  • Rent Assistance
  • Continence Aids Payment Scheme (CAPS)
  • Essential Medical Equipment Payment
  • Mobility Allowance
  • Austudy
  • Low Income Health Care Card

The spokesperson said the rebates that were included in this were across various groups, along general cost of living. Some of the big themes were:

  • Utilities – e.g. Power Saver Bonus, Family Energy Rebate
  • Concession Cards – e.g. Low Income Household Rebate, Pensioner Water Rebate
  • Family – e.g. Create/Active Kids Vouchers
  • Transport – e.g. Toll relief, CTP Green Slip Refunds
  • Unclaimed Monies – e.g. National, VIC, NSW

The bank plans to release a paper on this later in the year, in partnership with the Harvard Sustainability Transparency Accountability and Research Lab.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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