The Commonwealth Bank’s plan to put NDIS participant plans on their blockchain technology. The plan, developed with CSIRO, would allow the NDIS to monitor and control participant spending through “smart money”.
Commbank’s “smart money” would function similar to current and past trials where government payments are accessible through cards or food stamps programs that are limited to only allow spending by holders on products approved by the government.
Commonwealth Bank’s Head of Experimentation and Blockchain, Sophie Gilder noted to the Australian Financial Review that:
“We knew this would be a tough case, but that’s why we wanted to tackle it…It’s a big, hairy issue and we envisage using blockchain and connecting it with the new payments platform because that infrastructure is there and allows payments to be made in seconds.”
While Gilder sees great opportunity for “smart money” in the private sector, controlling NDIS packages is a high priority, with Gilder stating
“You could use smart money for insurance payouts or corporate credit cards. In these instances there are less rules, although still some rules, meaning it will be faster to implement. But that doesn’t mean we’ll stop working on the NDIS…
We’ve had really great feedback and we want to see if we can make it a reality. But with so many stakeholders and the amount of money flowing through it with half a million participants, it will take longer.”
Disability Community Rejects Commbank’s NDIS Plan
Unfortunately for Gilder, the disability community did not agree with whoever gave that feedback. Over 90% of 124 voters declared Commbank’s plan a Bad Idea in this Facebook poll.
CareNavigators mostly felt that Commbank’s ‘smart money’ was a dumb idea.
“What a horrendous way to control People with a Disability and take away their power, choice and control yet again. Get the fundamentals of the NDIS right before leaping ahead to exciting technology that will ultimately force people with a Disability back Into a box, again. This smells of another form of institutionalization.
All the money going into this research can surely be used in much better ways such as training NDIS staff and LACs, improving the crappy technology and improving internal processes.” – Meredith
“There is so much restriction already on choice & control of plans and accessing funds due to faceless planners making decisions without knowing the individual. It would be disasterous if banks or companies then restricted the process even more. This would ruin the integrity of the NDIS!” – AnneMarie Day
Can we trust a bank with NDIS?
CareNavigators also raised concern over letting the banks get involved in the NDIS given their behaviour towards their own customers, as exposed by the recent banking royal commission.
“How can you let the banks run ndis and have trust .. just a few weeks ago they were ripping there customers off!! what makes any one think they wouldn’t fall the same away again” – Mark
“Commbank ripped off every vulnerable customer they could find and now they want us to trust them with our measley NDIS payments ? Commbank will decide if we need a support ? what is happening to Australia ?” – Nada Day
“This is total craziness…since when have banks ever been able to be trusted to operate for the good of their customers. Just give the predators control of everything why don’t you? So all us participants will be going to and applying to use our NDIS like its a loan? How much do we have to beg and why should they get ANY say?” – Kathleen
NDIS Complicated Enough
While Michael highlighted that the NDIS is complicated enough already without adding further complication.
“We been trying since feb 2018 to have my sons funding approved for transition into supported accommodation ndis has proved to be a bureaucratic nightmare for our family, a litany of unanswered emails from a government Organisation that does not seem to be interested the slightest bit in helping my son obtain the long term care he needs. To farther complicate the matter by having funds tied up by the Commbank is totally unnecessary The system is way too complicated as it without going down that track even further” – Michael Poyser
Power of Blockchain
While also not loving the idea of a Bank running the system, Vince highlighted the potential of blockchain technology to reduce NDIA administration costs and speed up payments to providers, commenting:
“Yes ,there is merit in utilising Distributed Ledger Technology it would streamline the whole process and
a) Save money probably hundreds of millions of dollars which could then be placed back into the system freeing up more funds for the participants.
b) Enable quick payments via the use of smart contracts maybe built on the Ethereum blockchain using a ERC-20 coin purpose designed for the NDIS.
I would however NOT involve a bank for numerous reasons but would employ a DLT consultant already involved in this technology. Blockchain technology would cut out the middleman and just involve the payer and the payee.” – Vince Furlonger
Concerns over personal data
However, others were less enthusiastic about the idea of having their own personal data being put into a blockchain in order to access the NDIS.
“In order to block chain the NDIS funding, they will have to blockchain the people first…..don’t feel like being block chained thanks.” – Kathleen
If you’d like to learn more about the Commonwealth Bank’s collaboration with the CSIRO to put NDIS plans on the Blockchain, read the original post here.
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