Independent consultant Helen Coulson has developed radical proposals for a card-based pension system which would allow people to manage their savings in a similar way to a bank account.
Coulson, who is a board member at the Centre for Retirement Reform and was previously vice president of strategic development at American Express, has developed the idea in response to concerns raised by the industry about the costs of implementing a new automatic transfer system for small pension pots.
Under her proposals, individuals would be issued with cards by their provider which would hold details of their pension savings. Coulson says the system would work in a similar way to credit card banking and could be used to facilitate low-cost, high-speed pension transfers.
She has written a white paper, at the request of the Department for Work and Pensions, detailing how the idea might work.
Coulson says: “I have been doing a lot of work with the industry, DWP, the FSA and TPR on how we can make ‘pot follows member’ work.
“There has been a discussion about building a huge database but it has become clear that that would be hugely expensive and wholly unsuitable.
“When you use a credit card in a shop and take the goods away, the money is taken from your account straight away. There is no reason that concept could not be transferred to pensions.
“So why not have the financial services industry design something like this for pensions which people can trust, engage with and want to use?
“I think the Government has to back the idea and if they do, I am more than happy to help make it work.”
Tax Incentivised Savings Association director of policy Malcolm Small says: “Bank cards and supermarket clubcards can hold huge amounts of information. Something like this, which could be used to make and receive payments and store records of your pension, could certainly help to boost engagement.”