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Sam Connelly Consultant

Our Thinking Thu 23rd November, 2023

What I learned comparing 14 superannuation mobile apps and being caught in a data leak

In the past few years, superannuation funds have become the latest financial products to join the digital revolution, offering online account access and digital apps for their members.

Having worked in the financial industry with a special interest in superannuation and financial advice, I’m interested in how technology can help people work towards financial freedom. After I discovered that 33% of Australians check their superannuation balance less than once every three months, and 1 in 10 never check it at all, I was curious about the mobile apps on offer by superannuation funds. Could well-designed and engaging digital products encourage more people to take an active interest in financial planning for their future?

The good, the bad and the ugly data breach

I created accounts with 14 superannuation fund providers and discovered a mixed bag of good and bad experiences across the mobile apps.

At the better end of the market were the apps that provided an easy, quick and informative onboarding experience. Several apps allowed me to create an account within five minutes and log in immediately, providing a great experience for anyone setting up a fund. Within some apps, I was also able to easily find how to make a BPAY contribution to my super fund and see that contribution reflected in the account the next business day. 

But for every good app, I also encountered apps with poor usability. Outdated UI, clunky animations and limited accessibility considerations were common issues, while many apps relied on poorly rendered embedded web views whenever I had to complete a more complex account action. App store reviews also highlighted customer complaints with features suddenly stopping working, including biometric or pin logins – some of which I was able to replicate in my own testing. 

During my review of the apps, I was also unlucky enough to be caught up in a recent superannuation fund data breach, with my Tax File Number (TFN) leaked. As a result, my account with the Australian Tax Office has been permanently locked as a security measure, meaning whenever I want to update my tax account, I have to go through a time-consuming process of calling the office, explaining the situation and getting the account unblocked for 48 hours. It’s a headache, to say the least, and not what customers expect when using a superannuation app. 

Super funds need to prioritise good digital experience and robust security

The superannuation sector is rapidly changing with more people taking an interest in their savings and exercising their right to choose their fund provider. Tech-savvy customers have high expectations for digital services, and if their current provider’s online offering doesn’t meet these expectations, there is a danger they will seek out a new provider who has spent time optimising their online user experience.  For those not yet convinced about why they should be spending time managing their superfund (particularly younger people decades away from retirement), a poor digital experience certainly isn’t going to help change their minds, putting them at risk of retiring with a lower balance. 

As well as creating a good digital experience, superfunds also have a responsibility to ensure the security of the customers using their online services. The ability to decompile apps gives hackers additional avenues to gather information about how backend systems work, information which can be used to poke around for any vulnerabilities. Superfunds work with incredibly sensitive data and, as my own experience highlights, if you don’t get the security right and handle the risks properly, you’re putting yourself at risk of financial loss and reputational damage. 

Equal Experts has been helping superfunds transform their digital services and provide better customer experiences and improved security. I’ll be joining the team at ASFA Conference in Adelaide on 28 – 30 November 2023 where we’ll be demonstrating how Equal Experts:

Visit us at the ASFA conference or contact Matthew Waugh to find out more.