The innovators of the digital economy

(This article was first published in the June 2018 issue of Qantas Travel Insider)

The digital age is changing how we interact, connect and transact. Australia Post continues to demonstrate value for customers by providing relevant products and services to all people.

That has meant everything from working with Australian exporters to help them break into global eCommerce markets, to investing more than $2 billion over the past seven years in building its parcels infrastructure and digital capabilities. Australia Post has also added free 24/7 parcel lockers and introduced Shipster, a delivery membership service designed to provide consumers with free shipping at over 60 of Australia’s favourite brands, with more to come.

Australia Post’s purpose is to connect every Australian to what matters to them, be it links between individuals, businesses or government. Australia Post contributes to the economic and social wellbeing of communities and reinvigorates connections within them.

Launched last year, the latest link in the online economy is Digital iD™, an identity-verification solution. The free app is a critical part of the national digital infrastructure and gives users the ability to securely verify their identity in various situations, from proof of age to applying for a loan or accessing government services.

Digital iD™ is facilitating business for companies as diverse as the country’s largest member-owned financial institution, Credit Union Australia, and online job-outsourcing marketplace Airtasker.

Customer-first banking

Identification verification to open a bank account has become increasingly onerous and loan applications have even more hoops to jump through.

In recent years, various financial providers have attempted to streamline the process but, says Rob Goudswaard, CEO of Credit Union Australia (CUA), “It was inconsistent so we couldn’t go out and say to members, ‘You can open an account with us right now,’ as only one in two applicants would get through the automated verification.”

Last August, CUA announced it would become the first banking provider to trial Digital iD™. The capability of the app is already leading to “about 90 per cent of verifications going straight through”, says Goudswaard.

“The Australia Post capability allows us to better serve our members and is central to a number of things we’re doing at CUA,” he says, adding that he likes the fact that Australia Post employees “are part of our original membership base”.

Goudswaard says the goal of CUA’s technology innovations is to facilitate “a personal connection, so we can understand who our members are and what they need”.

Around 2000 CUA members are currently trialling iM CUA, a digital messaging app that allows members to nominate their personal banker, with whom they can communicate at any time via text, phone call or video call.

He recalls a member who was on an expedition in Antarctica and had an issue with her account; she was able to SMS her banker and sort it out on the spot. “Because it’s all done ‘in app’, the verification is already done,” he says.

“Banking is about what members need in terms of service now,” says Goudswaard. “Whether banks want to face it or not, power has moved from organisations to members.”

Outsourcing ID checks

It’s apt that Airtasker was an early adopter of Digital iD™, as the aim of the people-powered online marketplace aligns with Australia Post’s goal to connect every Australian to what matters to them.

Airtasker’s mission is “to empower people to realise the value of their skills” by building a marketplace that connects people and businesses who need to outsource tasks (Posters) with members of the community who provide those services (Taskers) and earn income.

When Airtasker launched six years ago, “Identity was important in the marketplace, both for Taskers and Posters,” says Chief Operations Officer CJ Foo. But he grimaces when he remembers that getting an early version of the ID verification badge relied on “a clunky online form”, a process that happened outside of the app and had to be manually reviewed one by one.

“The process was tedious and inconvenient for our members,” he says. This obviously had to change for the rapidly scaling startup, which today has more than 2 million community members and over $100 million in Tasker earnings each year.

Airtasker was “delighted”, says Foo, when Australia Post invited it to be one of the first to partner on the Digital iD™ project – and impressed by how fast things moved from the initial conversations in the first half of 2017 to rollout in September.

“I’ve dealt with large corporations before and I was genuinely surprised by their agility,” he says. “It was about a week between getting the documentation, building it and testing it. And less than a month to get it live with our customers. From a technology perspective, that’s impressive!”

In the Airtasker community, information to help people decide who to engage with is critical. Foo says Digital iD™ is helping to further “build on the trust and reputational data that’s at the heart of our platform”. The Digital iD™ verification is in line with Airtasker’s review system, which allows reviews only after the task is completed, providing authenticity.

“Australia Post’s trusted reputation and data security is key,” says Foo, “reassuring our members that their information will be handled appropriately.” Thousands of Airtasker members already have their Digital iD™ Badges and members are urging others to become verified.

Now that identity verification is seamless, the company can focus on growth. Airtasker recently launched a “skill” for Amazon Alexa, allowing members to post a task by voice via the digital assistant. In March this year, it launched Airtasker London, with plans to spread across the country.

Digital iD™ is an example of Australia Post’s commitment to creating this next wave of digital services for Australia in retail, deliveries, identity and payments that will continue to help people, businesses and governments to connect.

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