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Brightwell brings fully online retirements to BTPS members

Brightwell, the primary service provider to the BT Pension Scheme (BTPS), has launched a full self-serve online retirement journey for BTPS members. The new service leverages biometric identity verification and automatically diarises and pays out members’ pensions and lump sums. It is believed to be an industry first for a defined benefit (DB) scheme.

In partnership with pensions software provider Procentia and Onfido, a leading global identity verification provider, Brightwell has introduced digital identity verification and automatic settlement capability, so the whole retirement process can be completed online.

Using the BTPS portal, members can run retirement quotes to decide on their chosen option, confirm their choice, complete the application, verify their identity digitally and submit their application online. This automatically sets up a settlement case, disinvests any additional voluntary contributions (AVCs) they may have, puts them into payment on their chosen pension start date, and converts them to pensioner status, all without any administrator involvement or manual intervention.

Onfido’s AI-powered technology verifies user identities securely and quickly using a library of award-winning document and biometric verifications, trusted data sources, and passive fraud signals.

Members simply take a photo of their government-issued identity document (ID) and a selfie. Onfido first checks that the ID is genuine and not fraudulent, and then matches it to the user’s face.

Meanwhile, in the background, the system automatically carries out a set of comprehensive checks on the member’s data and the automated calculation results to provide all the checks and balances that previously were carried out by administrators.  In the small number of cases where they may be  discrepancies, one of Brightwell’s skilled administrators can carry out further checks before payments are made.

BTPS is one of the largest private sector pension schemes in the UK with over 263,000 members. Its 210,000 pensioners receive £2.6bn in pension payments a year and it has 53,000 deferred members, who are yet to retire.

Each year, between 7,000 and 8,000 BTPS members go through the retirement process, putting their BTPS pension into payment.

Currently, nearly two thirds (61%) complete their retirement application online using the BTPS member portal, which was launched in 2021. But, for the final part of the process, members previously had to send copies of identity documents such as passport or driving licence through the post together with their pension application form, including a wet signature.

Andy Whitelaw, Deputy Head Member Services, Brightwell said: “Since launch, over 125,000 members have registered for the BTPS online portal and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

“With so many members choosing to start their retirement journey online, we wanted to put the final piece of the jigsaw in place, introducing digital identity verification so the whole process can be completed easily, securely and quickly online.

“We expect the majority of members coming up to retirement will choose to use this service for the convenience and security it offers, and this will reduce our post volumes, freeing up valuable administrator time which can then be used for handling complex cases, dealing with more vulnerable members and other initiatives to improve member service even further.”

Liam McGrath, CEO, Procentia Group said: “Introducing digital verification is good news for members who demand easy to use online services and for pension schemes that want efficient, secure processes. We’ve worked closely with Brightwell on this development which will be deployed via Procentia’s latest version of our cloud-based administration platform, IntelliPen.

Yuelin Li, Chief Product Officer, Onfido said: “In today’s digital age, users increasingly expect a user-friendly online experience so that they can seamlessly prove their real identity while knowing it is secure and upholds privacy. At Onfido, we bring trust to digital transactions worldwide, and we’re pleased to be supporting BTPS’s digital initiative in creating a trusted digital identity ecosystem.”

Published:

09 / 04 / 2024

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