CommBank’s popular ‘Benefits finder’ to get share of $5B tech boost over next five years

Benefits Finder CBA

Nearly two years since the scheme’s launch, and traversing several natural disasters and the Covid crisis, CBA has revealed its ‘Benefits finder’ platform netted customers nearly half a billion dollars in savings through 2020, with the company saying it will invest more than $5 billion over the next five years to boost its technology systems, including a share for the popular rebates and benefits search platform.

CBA said the investment will serve to ensure the service, which connects customers to a share of “tens of billions of dollars’ worth of unclaimed government rebates”, can continue to improve its systems and services.

It is likely some portion of the funding will go towards boosting the CBA’s increasingly powerful centralised customer engagement engine (CEE), a machine learning-based system which backs the Benefits finder platform’s personalised notification and targeted benefits recommendation processes.

Alongside Pegasystems help in developing the CCE, Harvard University’s STAR (Sustainability, Transparency and Accountability Research) Lab also had a hand in developing the rebates system.

CBA revealed more than 1 million claims have been started by its customers through the system across all benefit categories since its launch in September 2019.

Covid has proved a key trigger point for benefits seekers, with 700,000 claims received since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the bank said.

The digital-only Benefits finder feature, which is accessible through the bank’s online service platforms, NetBank and the CommBank app, netted customers more than $481 million in savings from utility bills and additional government payments between July 2019 and August 2020.

This includes benefits related to natural disasters such as the NSW Government’s Disaster Recovery Payment and Disaster Allowance Payment.

The service prompts individuals with personalised and relevant alerts, “making it really simple and easy for customers to make a claim”, said CBA’s chief digital officer Fredrik Lindström.

“This more readily helps customers find benefits and rebates that they may be eligible for – ultimately to help put more money back into budgets for households and businesses.”

He said the bank’s 7.5 million digitally active customers are demanding “highly personalised” digital experiences that “add tangible value” to their lives.

Using the CCE’s analytics capability, Benefits finder can tailor its system to automatically connect individual customers to rebate programs or benefits based on their specific eligibility for or likelihood of being able to receive them.

“Connecting digital services is a key focus for us and it is not surprising to see so many customers taking up Benefits finder as a free, easy-to-use feature – especially at a time when many are doing it tough,” Lindström said.

“Digital adoption is accelerating and we want to build really deep, trusted personal relationships with customers by differentiating and offering global best digital experiences and technology.

He added that bank is “focused on re-imagining the digital experiences… [helping customers] better understand and manage their finances”.

“This includes tapping into our customer engagement engine and using Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to drive highly relevant and personalised content straight into the palms of our customers’ hands – including via the personalised feed of content we are now offering customers through our new For You feature, with no customer feed being the same.”

Since launch, CommBank has increased the number of available benefits from 189 to more than 270 today.

“Many of these benefits are pandemic-related including the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, Dine & Discover NSW, COVID Land Tax Relief and SME government guaranteed loans,” the bank said.

However, by far the most popular claim types relate to unclaimed funds held by federal and state authorities, with 506,972 claims made, followed by unclaimed super, at 67,228 claims, and the power saver bonus, at 58,124 claims.

On a state-by-state breakdown, NSW – perhaps unsurprisingly given its population size and recent spate of natural disasters – leads the way with close to 400,000 claims started, followed by Victoria with more than 290,000, and Queensland with more than 200,000.