The Money and Pensions Service (Maps) has started a six-week period of informal market engagement with potential suppliers of the digital architecture for the pensions dashboards.
Maps - the information and guidance body which launched the Pensions Dashboard Programme (PDP) last year - said the market engagement exercise would enable the PDP to examine the readiness, capacity and capability of commercial firms which might be interested in the work. It said this is in preparation for a formal procurement process anticipated to start in autumn this year.
It said potential suppliers are being invited to register their interest and complete an online request for information questionnaire by 31 July.
Maps added that throughout July and August it would also hold an industry-wide call for input relating to the data scope and data definitions working papers which were published in April.
It said the formal call for input on these was delayed because of the coronavirus outbreat, but that it will now open on 6 July and further information will be made available shortly on the newly launched PDP website.
In conjunction with this call for input, the PDP will convene a data working group representing all sectors of the pensions industry. It said the group will meet regularly for a series of detailed, solution-focussed dialogues to help finalise a set of data standards later in the year.
PDP principal Chris Curry said: "The pensions industry faced significant challenges as a result of Covid-19 and the lockdown. Firms were rightly focused on day-to-day operations and the immediate needs of their customers - but while that was going on, the PDP has continued its work towards delivering the technology that will enable individuals to see all of their pensions information online, securely and all in one place.
"We know the sector has responded well to the current crisis and there is enthusiasm to engage once again in the important detail of delivering pensions dashboards. We are now making good progress on a number of fronts and are ready to shape detailed data requirements with the help of the industry while also starting engagement with the tech firms which will help us build the dashboard ecosystem."
He added: "The concept behind pensions dashboards is simple but there are still complicated technical and regulatory hurdles to overcome. The work of the next few months will be significant in helping us develop a timeline for the delivery of these services."
Pensions and financial inclusion minister Guy Opperman said the latest announcements were "crucial steps" in the development of the pensions dashboards.
He said: "This engagement between the PDP and potential suppliers of the dashboard infrastructure will pave the way for a formal procurement process this autumn. Alongside this, its imminent call for input on data standards is another crucial step towards putting individuals in control of their financial futures.
"The measures included in the Pension Schemes Bill currently going through parliament will compel pension providers to make consumers data available to them via dashboards. I would encourage schemes to be on the front foot and to get ‘data ready' now.
"There remains plenty of work to be done, but this is a hugely exciting innovation, one that I believe will bring pensions into the digital age and transform the way we all think about and plan for retirement."
Firms interested in taking part in the market engagement process can find full details here.