Using blockchain technology to help manage payments made to Australia's National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) could have huge time and money saving benefits, a trial involving CBA and the nation's scientific research agency CSIRO has found.
In the NDIS, participants have individualised plans that can contain multiple budget categories - each with different spending rules.
The pilot used a permissioned Ethereum network with smart contracts that helped users to manage their plan by enabling them to find, book and pay for services from NDIS service providers through an app, without the need for paperwork or receipts.
The proof-of-concept, which included support from The Reserve Bank of Australia and the country's New Payments Platform, aimed to test the concept of 'smart money', which applies an NPP integrated digital token programmed to determine what it can be spent on, who it can be spent by and when it can be spent.
The prototype app was tested by 10 NDIS participants and carers in the CommBank Innovation Lab as well as a small number of medium-sized disability service providers.
Participants and carers gave the app overwhelmingly positive feedback and estimated that it could save them one hour to 15 hours per week, while service providers concluded that potential annual cost savings as a percentage of revenue could hit between 0.3% and 0.8%.
CBA says that conservative modelling puts the economic benefits of a full roll out at hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Julie Hunter, head of government and ADIs, CBA, says: "We’re excited by the potential to enable NDIS participants to exercise greater choice and control over their disability support services, while streamlining budget management and removing the need for paperwork.
"The results also show potential to reduce administration costs for disability service providers and the risk of fraud and accidental misspending."
CBA and CSIRO say that the results offer a "strong case" for a full roll out and also suggest that the technology has wide application across the government, business and not-for-profit sectors.