: The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) has achieved the objective of reducing turnaround time for itself and the third parties involved, by providing greater convenience for members to submit their withdrawal applications via e-Pengeluaran.
The usage of the e-Pengeluaran online facility has also surged after it was extended to include withdrawals for education purposes, in December 2015, in addition to withdrawal for house purchases.
Apart from the convenience of sending applications online, this facility allows members to check the eligible amount for withdrawal for a particular scheme and facilitates crediting the approved amount directly into member's or participating bank's account.
Head of Withdrawal Operations Management Department Zalikar Yusoff said the services had evolved dramatically to suit the change in time and expectations of its members.
"Yes, we do expect a large response. Every quarter, the number of applications for withdrawals, especially withdrawals for housing, increases.
"Hence, we saw the need to simplify the process and reduce lead time for withdrawal applications, which led to the development and introduction of e-Pengeluaran.
"Since this is a growing part of our business and transactions, we seek to increase the number of third parties such as banks participating in e-Pengeluaran to deliver service that is faster, convenient and cost-saving," she said in an interview.
Members are encouraged to register for i-Akaun in order to enjoy the benefits provided by the facility, she added.
Zalikar noted that conventional withdrawal would usually take more than nine days to complete, starting from request of bank statement until the application was approved.
However, with e-Pengeluaran, the process would only take two days to complete, subject to the online housing loan application being verified by the banks and that members have verified their thumbprint over the EPF counter.
"Through e-Pengeluaran, the request for bank redemption statement will be done electronically by the EPF. Information on the housing loan can be obtained online directly from the banks.
"Hence, members will save travel time and cost," she said, adding that banks would usually take two days to respond.
She said any straight-forward application that did not require special handling, such as refinancing of account, would be processed immediately after a response is received.
Members would be notified through short messaging service and an alert would be sent to their i-Akaun secured messages inbox to go to the nearest EPF counter for thumbprint verification.
"In this scenario, if members have done their thumbprint verification immediately after receiving notification, the total process time can be done within three days after the submission date," she said.
Overall, as at Dec 31, 2016, of the 264,000 e-Pengeluaran applications received, 132,772 were for housing withdrawals and 130,613 for education withdrawals.
A total of 120,411 applications have been approved through e-Pengeluaran, in which 33,364 were for housing withdrawals and 87,613 for education withdrawals.
The banks participating in e-Pengeluaran are RHB Bank, Maybank, Bank Islam, OCBC Bank, Bank Simpanan Nasional, Ambank, UOB Bank and CIMB Bank.
"In order for more members to benefit from the facility, we encourage more banks to participate in e-Pengeluaran, which in turn will help significantly reduce banks' turnaround time and improve their daily productivity," said Zalikar.
She said EPF was currently in talks with Public Bank to join e-Pengeluaran.
Meanwhile, higher learning institutions participating in e-Pengeluaran Education include International Islamic University Malaysia, Multimedia University, Open University Malaysia, University Teknologi Mara Malaysia and the
National Higher Education Fund as loan providers.
Members can make withdrawals to fund their own or their children's education fees at participating local institutions of higher learning.
Withdrawals can also be made to settle the outstanding balance for education loans taken from participating loan provider institutions.
"Like housing withdrawals, we are also working towards having more higher learning institutions participate in e-Pengeluaran," said Zalikar.
She added that the EPF was expected to include health withdrawals in e-Pengeluaran in the second-half of this year and this initiative would see it collaborate with the National Heart Institute and KPJ Healthcare as participating medical institutions.
"Now, members can submit their health withdrawal application through e-Pengeluaran and confirmation of the member's health condition will be produced by the respective hospital. All this will be done online.
"We're hoping that more hospitals will be able to participate in e-Pengeluaran," she added.
Zalikar said hospitals would need to be equipped with a handheld thumbprint device at their premises for members' confirmation and verification before the EPF processes their application.
Under the health withdrawal scheme, Zalikar said members may spread the hospital bill among their siblings to pay for their parents' treatment.
To submit applications through e-Pengeluaran, all siblings must be registered with i-Akaun to do so.
The amount eligible for withdrawal shall not exceed the total medical bills, Zalikar said, adding that there were currently 57 critical illnesses under the health withdrawal scheme that has been approved by the EPF Board.
For more information on EPF products and services, members can call the EPF Contact Management Centre at 03-89226000, or browse EPF website at www.kwsp.gov.my<http://www.kwsp.gov.my>or visit any EPF counters nationwide. - BERNAMA