Do you know how much more or less money you will have at your disposal after retirement? It is not easy to calculate: data from OASI (old-age and survivors' insurance, "AHV" in German) and your pension fund is needed, various tax effects need to be taken into account, and you need to exercise patience: it takes two to four weeks for a statement of your individual OASI account to be delivered.

Swiss people seek security and transparency when it comes to pension provision. It is important for them to know whether they will still have enough income to keep their home after retirement, or if they should take measures before they retire to have a higher pension later. Today it is unnecessarily difficult to get this transparency.

In the age of smartphones, there is an app for almost everything pension planning in Switzerland is an exception. The reason is not the complex Swiss pension system with the three pillars (state, occupational and private pension), but rather that the relevant data is locked away in organizations that largely have not yet arrived in the digital age.

What would the world look like if pension data was accessible via Open APIs (open, standardized programming interfaces)? Apps or web sites would quickly emerge, allowing anyone to easily get an overview about their pension situation and to explore scenarios, such as what the financial impact of a married couple retiring early would be.

Financial advisors would also use Open APIs to collect the data needed for comprehensive advice, without the client having to go through his filing and ordering statements from different organizations.

Four elements are essential to realize this vision:

  • Standardized Open APIs to all pension funds for accessing individual pension data

  • An Open API for querying OASI contributions

  • Electronic identification to grant access to one's own pension data to apps or advisors. After all, the individual alone should decide who can access their data

  • Entrepreneurial spirit so the apps and the financial advisory services emerge

There is no lack of entrepreneurial spirit in this field in Switzerland. Electronic identification will not be an obstacle either: the currently promoted E-ID is a potential solution, especially well-suited for accessing OASI data (see electronic ID for more details). Thus, the missing piece are the Open APIs.

In other industries, Open APIs are already deployed. In the EU, for example, it is mandatory for banks to publish APIs for accessing account data and executing payment transactions. The obligation does not apply to Switzerland, yet many Swiss banks provide corporate customers with an interface, and SIX is about to make up for the EU's lead with its own initiative (Swiss Corporate API).

With Open APIs for the pension system a new era will dawn: individuals will finally gain transparency about their pension situation and be empowered to control it more actively, ultimately leading to greater financial security in old age. Time has come for the federal government and pension funds to finally make use of the possibilities offered by digitalization for achieving transparency.