Commonwealth Bank (CBA) has today released new figures revealing its app feature Benefits finder has saved customers more than $153 million in utility bills and additional government payments alone over the past year.

CBA designed the evaluation in partnership with Harvard University’s STAR Lab. The latest conservative estimates  indcate that customers saved more than $69 million in utility bills and generated $84 million in additional income, on a recurring annual basis[i].

Released nationally in September 2019, Benefits finder’s aim is to help connect customers with their share in billions of dollars worth of unclaimed government rebates and benefits. Since launch, 2.2 million customers have visited the feature in the app and more than 700,000 claims have been started[ii]. Of those, 370,000 have been made since the start of the coronavirus pandemic[iii].

Benefits finder has been a key digital support measure for customers during coronavirus. It has seen a 500 per cent increase in customers using the feature compared with before the crisis. The top claims started through Benefits finder being from 1 June 2019 to 3 June 2020 include:

  • Unclaimed money (286,972 on a federal and state level)
  • Unclaimed super (28,228)
  • Power saver bonus (41,124)
  • Jobseeker related payments (24,256)
  • Family tax benefit (15,587)
  • Rent assistance (13,863)
  • Family energy rebate (12,038)

The $69 million in utility savings mostly consist of energy rebates that are added as discounts to the bill such as the NSW Gas Rebate, Winter Gas Rebate, Family Energy Rebate, Low Income Household Rebate, and Pensioner water concessions among others. Meanwhile, the $84 million in additional payments is made up of Federal Centrelink payments or allowances on top of customers’ regular payments, such as Rent Assistance, Education Entry Payment, Mobility Allowance, and bushfire payments.

Angus Sulllivan, Group Executive, Retail Banking Services, CBA, said there were more than 230 benefits available to customers who may not know are eligible.

“Benefits finder has been instrumental in supporting the financial wellbeing of our customers, particularly during coronavirus. In addition to the support we are providing directly with our own product and service changes, we are determined to help our customers claim as many benefits and rebates as possible to free up money for essential expenses and reduce their financial stress.

“Leveraging our number one banking app and the Customer Engagement Engine (CEE), Benefits finder is one of the ways we are creating a simple, personalised, informative relationship with customers, and making it easy for them to know what is going on digitally, in the palm of their hands,” he said.

There are over 230 benefits and rebates available, and now for small businesses, on Benefits finder in the CommBank app, which was developed as part of the ongoing collaboration between CBA and Harvard’s Sustainability, Transparency and Accountability Research (STAR) Lab.

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[i] The Harvard research team is examining the data independently and preparing a detailed research report for publication

[ii] As at July 2020

[iii] Start of COVID-19 Pandemic refers to March 11 2020, following the announcement from WHO