Several large Dutch sector schemes are actively trying to persuade their participants to pass on their email addresses in order to save on communication costs and for sustainability reasons.

They are finding, however, that the process is laborious, and that they have a long way to go before they no longer need the postman and can save millions of euros through digital correspondence.

Although most schemes already have an online platform and prefer digital communication, the main hurdle is that they lack the email addresses of many active participants, deferred members and pensioners.

Participants must explicitly approve their pension fund’s request to switch to digital correspondence.

The percentages of known email addresses range from 11% to 96%, mainly with the details of deferred participants missing. The healthcare scheme PFZW reported the highest score.

BpfBouw, the pension fund for the building sector, is trying to obtain digital details through a large banner on its website. Currently, it has the email adresses of no more than 44% of its 155,000 active participants.

Despite 3,000 of them having passed on their details since October, the percentage of email addresses on file has hardly improved, following an increase in the number of participants, the pension fund said.

Metal schemes PMT and PME said they have the digital details of approximately one-third of their participants and pensioners.

The remaining two-thirds still receive their uniform pension statements (UPO) and other correspondence by traditional paper mail.

PMT and PME have 1.3 million and 615,000 workers, deferred members and pensioners, respectively.

PMT said that it could save €2m annually if it could reach all participants and pensioners by email.

The two schemes, whose joint pensions provider is MN, said they will send their participants an invitation to register on their online platforms.

They said they expected to reach 80% of their participants through email in 2022.

The metal funds noted they won’t opt for communication through the government-supported message box (Berichtenbox), as this charges pension funds for its services.

Despite the costs – €0.14 for each time a participant logs in, and €0.40 for each letter placed in the box – civil service scheme ABP said it considered the message box as an alternative to email communication because of its lower costs and sustainability reasons.

It said it had joined forces with the Pensions Federation to address the issue of costs charged by the government for its message box, explaining that care insurers can use the service for free.

Of ABP’s 1.13 million active participants, 640,000 receive correspondence by email, while 100,000 are reached through the government’s Berichtenbox.

The civil service scheme said it will send the remaining 400,000 a letter invitating members to visit its website and register.