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The ATO's Philip Hind spoke to Katarina Taurian about the progress of SuperStream implementation and the ATO's ongoing concerns for SMSF trustees who have yet to become SuperStream-ready.

The ATO recently announced the first SuperStream transactions have been processed. How is the implementation process progressing?

So far the process has been going pretty well as expected. We’ve hit a few technical or processing issues, but nothing that we weren’t able to sort through and remediate pretty quickly and then move on. A couple of our induction groups had to be rescheduled just because they didn’t meet our readiness criteria, but we’ve been able to bring some others forward. So it’s pretty well going on schedule at the moment and as planned.

Now on the SMSF side… there are 26 registered message service providers that are capable of receiving SuperStream contributions on behalf of SMSFs. At this point, with those six employers that we’ve brought through induction, 18 of those 26 have been on the receiving end of contributions. So we’ve seen the flow-through of contributions successfully to most of the SMSF messaging service providers, and so therefore being made accessible to the SMSF trustees.

We’re expecting to hit significant volumes in about three or four weeks’ time when the first solutions have been fully cross-certified.

Do you still have concerns that the extension to the SuperStream start date will see trustees delay getting on board?

We’ve been checking with administrators and messaging providers and others to see what kind of response they’re getting from sign-up rates and so on. They’re reporting that after the initial dip after the [extension] announcement, they continued to get much better response rates. So there was an initial set-back, but we have seen rates of signing up increase.

Now that doesn’t mean we still don’t have a long way to go; we do. But we always anticipated it would take the best part of this year to reinforce the message with trustees that they needed to take this seriously and get organised. Our communications effort will continue. Ideally, everyone would sign up now and it would all be done and dusted, but in the real world it takes time.

What is your advice to trustees and their advisers in the lead-up to the deadline?

Certainly don’t leave it too late, because if you’re not organised by February/March, the risk is that you’ll miss out on the contribution periods that are remaining in the year, and then you will be non-compliant. If you’re not going to do it this side of Christmas you need to turn your mind to it early next year.

Are there any SuperStream considerations that are specific to SMSFs?

[It’s a] pretty simple process involved here, with signing up with a messaging servicing provider; it only takes a couple of minutes. Most SMSFs already have bank account information registered with their employers, [and] a lot already have and know their ABN.

It’s largely this electronic service address that’s the new piece of information. We’re finding [it’s] about 10 minutes’ effort or thereabouts, that’s usually what it takes to set up. Once you’ve communicated that to your employers, it’s really a one-off event; you don’t really have to worry about it anymore.

So from an SMSF perspective, the task of getting ready for SuperStream is actually very simple compared to an APRA fund.

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