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Tuesday 28 July 2015

15-198MR New digital disclosure measures to enhance consumer understanding and cut red tape

ASIC is making it easier for businesses to communicate important information to financial services consumers.

ASIC has released new guidance and waivers to further facilitate businesses providing disclosures through digital channels and to encourage innovative communication of information about financial products and services.

ASIC Commissioner John Price said, 'The measures announced today respond to changing consumer preferences, with ever increasing numbers of people transacting digitally. Almost 15 million Australians now have a home internet connection and 68% of those online are using three or more devices to access the internet.

'The changes mean product disclosure statements (PDS) and other financial services disclosure documents will be delivered to consumers digitally as the default option, unless the consumer opts out. This will reduce the costs of printing and mailing for businesses while preserving choice for those consumers who wish to receive paper.'

'ASIC wants industry to harness the opportunities of digitisation and is encouraging the use of more engaging forms of communication using digital media – interactive, video and audio. This can boost consumer understanding of financial services and products,' Mr Price said.

ASIC's guidance and waivers  are contained in Regulatory Guide 221 Facilitating digital financial services disclosure (RG 221) and two new legislative instruments.

The changes follow recent consultation through Consultation Paper 224 Facilitating electronic financial services and disclosures (CP 224).

Background

We have facilitated the use of innovative digital disclosures as outlined below:

  • Explaining in RG 221, our view that providers do not need relief in most instances to use clients' electronic addresses for delivery of disclosures;
  • Giving relief in ASIC Corporations (Facilitating Electronic Delivery of Financial Services Disclosure) Instrument 2015 (15-647) to create a new method of digital delivery enabling financial services providers to publish a disclosure digitally and notify the client that it is available;
    • Giving relief, also in ASIC Corporations (Facilitating Electronic Delivery of Financial Services Disclosure) Instrument 2015 (15-647), to enable superannuation fund trustees to meet their obligation to give a PDS and ongoing disclosures to a default fund member by using an email address provided by the member’s employer.
    • Giving relief in ASIC Corporations (Removing Barriers to Electronic Disclosure) Instrument 2015 (15-649) for the innovative use of digital media for PDSs, FSGs and SOAs.
    • Providing additional guidance in our Good practice guidance for digital disclosure (Appendix D of RG 221) to help ensure that clients continue to receive clear, concise and effective information when disclosures are delivered digitally and that consumer protections are retained in the digital environment.

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Last updated: 20/07/2016 01:01