The Pensions Dashboards Programme has moved into the testing of digital architecture phase, with more than 20 organisations taking part as early participants, programme principal Chris Curry has said.
The next stage of the process will see early participants, including pension providers, schemes and integrated service providers, connecting to the “dashboards ecosystem”.
In an update report on the programme, Curry said the central digital architecture has been completed and testing is now underway alongside the development of operational and technical standards.
“Over the coming months, providers and schemes will begin connecting. which will lead to user testing of the live environment,” Curry said.
The testing of the central architecture will involve real pensions data — a significant milestone for the programme.
The upcoming assessment period will see the PDP’s two non-commercial providers, the state pension and the MoneyHelper dashboard — built by the Money and Pensions Service — be connected to the test environment.
This is expected to be completed sometime in the Autumn and will be done to verify the connection processes.
Following that, early participants will be invited to begin their testing in preparation for their connection to the dashboard in the new year.
This will include testing of application programming interfaces — specialised software that acts as a point of contact between the provider’s backend systems and the dashboards.
Curry said: “These early participants are playing a vital role in preparing for compulsory staging, and their insights and feedback at this stage will shape the journey for the rest of industry.”
Once this stage of testing has been completed, providers will then be able to continue testing within the live dashboard — an essential stage in the preparation for compulsory connection to the dashboard.
By April next year, PDP is aiming to review responses to its consultation on standards to produce an updated guide on what it expects to see from providers. These standards will need governmental approval.
PDP will be providing an update on consumer protection to clearly explain the extent of obligations of pension providers, schemes and dashboards providers.
Elsewhere, the Department for Work and Pensions has compiled the draft Pensions Dashboard Regulations 2022, while the Financial Conduct Authority is reviewing responses to its consultation on the pensions dashboard regulations and will soon finalise the rules for pension providers.
Under current proposals, the FCA will introduce a new regulated activities order to oversee the commercial bodies that operate dashboard services.
TPR has begun writing to schemes about their duties in the run-up to the dashboards coming online and will deliver a wide-ranging communication package to bolster scheme preparedness.
Earlier this month, the DWP backed down on its proposed 90 days pensions dashboard lead time following industry demands for more leniency. It will now give providers a six-month warning before the project goes live.
Tom Higgins is a freelance reporter at FTAdviser's sister publication Pensions Expert