Strong take-up of straight-through processing for superannuation contributions by QSuper and more recently, Tower, is indicative of the appetite for a national superannuation clearing house, according to the country’s largest clearing house, SuperChoice. Peter Philip, chief executive officer of SuperChoice, which has proposed a model which would see it become the central data exchange to which super contributions were transmitted, said the clearing house was definitely on funds’ agenda, “it’s just a matter of whether the government will proceed with its plans”. The Government earmarked $16 million over three years in the last Budget towards the development of an optional superannuation clearing house facility, which would be free for employers of less than 20 staff.

However little has been heard from Canberra since Budget night and some in the industry feel the clearing house may have been lost in the noise created by the subsequent Henry, Ripoll and Cooper reviews. “What we’ve been saying is that a whole of industry solution is required,” Philip said. “Something that fragments the industry further, whether it’s along industry fund lines and retail fund lines, just wouldn’t be good for the industry.” However he said the “feeling in fund land” is that the clearing house would be for small business, whereas most of the funds focus on larger employers.

“So for the funds it could be a bit of a non-event,” he said. Philip said much of the clearing house discussion has centred on options that are not feasible, or would create more cost in the industry. “We believe that a central infrastructure is required; if you look at other industries, world best practice is to move to a central infrastructure that’s a shared utility across all participants in the industry,” he said. Tower is the latest superannuation provider to streamline its super choice transactions through the Super Data Exchange (SDX), which was made available to all super funds in September.

Philip said Tower had recently begun using SuperChoice for contributions processing, a service already provided to AMP, ING, IBM/Russell, AAS and QSuper. In August, QSuper announced it had engaged SuperChoice to deliver an online solution to allow members who have left the government sector to keep QSuper as their preferred super fund. “We’re processing 1.6 million Australians’ super – next year it will be in the order of 20 million transactions,” Philip said. “There are a lot of funds that are doing pseudo-electronic processing, getting emails, but those aren’t validated transactions whereas SDX is ensuring the fund receives validated straight through transactions that are reconciled to the money. “The key of SDX is it’s inextricably tying the money and data together and it means the recipient funds don’t need to validate or reconcile the money.”

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