Success Story: National Family Allowances Fund

Streamlining the delivery of family benefits to cover families during life’s moments

  • Headquarters

    Paris, France
  • Industry

  • Challenge

    Establish secure, real-time communications with the Fund’s ecosystem of public and private partners; expand the co-production of services; develop data certification; and strengthen the fight against fraud 

  • Solution

  • Results

      • Expands the co-production of services and enables the Fund to focus on its core business
      • Secures real-time communications and strengthens the fight against benefits fraud
      • Industrializes the Fund’s IT processes, reducing total cost of ownership (TCO)
      • Streamlines delivery of benefits, enhancing the customer experience


        Every family in France relies on the National Family Allowances Fund¹, the cornerstone of the nation’s social safety net. The Fund is there when a baby is born, when a student needs help with the rent, or when the long-term unemployed need a helping hand.

        Active in every region of France, the National Family Allowances Fund covers over 30 million people — almost half the nation’s population — and distributes over €73 billion per year in family benefits, housing allowances, and welfare for the very poor. These benefits are paid through 120 million bank transfers to over 11 million beneficiaries in France, including almost 14 million children.

        A national organization, the Fund also maintains a very local presence, with a network of 103 local family allowances funds² (one for each French department). The local funds are in direct contact with the general public and administer the benefits.

        Nationwide, there are 20 million visits annually to local fund offices, and 180 million visits to the Fund’s websites. Overall, the Fund employs more than 30,000 people. These figures reflect the central role the Fund plays in the day-to-day lives of people in France.

        The family branch

        Working with an ecosystem of partners

        The Fund is the “family branch” of France’s social security system, which also includes branches for health and retirement. In addition, the Fund is part of a much larger “ecosystem” of partners that are involved in the delivery of public services.

        In fact, many public services — including the Fund’s benefits payments — require the “co-production” of services by two or more partners of the ecosystem. For example, Fund beneficiaries must have a valid health ID number, which is maintained by the health branch. Payment of family benefits therefore relies on the co-production of services by the family and health branches.

        This co-production of services is at the heart of the Fund’s policy to streamline delivery of benefits and improve the customer experience. But the Fund knew it would need to step up its game in order to handle:

        • Increasingly complex co-production scenarios
        • A vast increase in real-time communications
        • Stringent security requirements

        Improving the customer experience

        Expanding co-production of services

        To carry out its mission, the Fund works closely with an ecosystem of public and private partners, including:

        • Public agencies for health, disability, retirement and unemployment
        • Local government authorities, such as France’s General Councils³, the elected assemblies of the French departments
        • National authorities, such as the French National Railway Company4
        • Landlords and housing lessors, for housing benefits
        • Financial partners, such as France’s banks, for the payments of benefits  

        The Fund wanted to improve the customer experience by simplifying beneficiaries’ access to services while enhancing security. To achieve this goal, it was essential to:

        • Expand co-production of services
        • Reduce costs and improve efficiency, moving towards a fully paperless system
        • Ensure data accuracy by developing data certification
        • Strengthen the fight against benefits fraud, an ever-present issue in the social protection sector
        • Secure real-time communications and implement the French “InterOps” security standard as part of a robust, scalable solution

        Time was of the essence, as the volume of real-time traffic was expected to soar in the very near term. Indeed, the Fund had to industrialize the entire co-production process, while ensuring the integrity of its information system and the data it contains.

        Choosing a trusted vendor

        Handling 200,000 real-time transactions per day

        Axway and the Fund have a close, long-standing relationship. In a previous call for tender, the Fund selected Axway to handle its batch communications with the creation of Platine, the Platform for Interoperability and Exchanges. This industrial-scale platform is used for secure file exchange via SSL and SWIFT. Based on the Axway B2B solution, Platine also includes Axway MFT, Axway Integrator, Axway Passport and Axway Sentinel. Using Platine, the Fund exchanges over 190,000 files with partners each month.

        The Fund has also worked with Axway to meet its need for real-time communications, and in 2010 purchased Axway technology to manage some of its real-time traffic. “We issued a competitive call for tender and selected Axway,” said Thierry Guiot, the Fund’s Security Infrastructure Manager. “The determining factor was that Axway offered off-the-shelf, predefined filters that enable us to manipulate XML traffic and easily secure the flow of data.”

        For the new project, the Fund was seeking a single solution to:

        • Manage all of its real-time traffic
        • Handle encryption, signature, authentication, integrity, and token management
        • Reduce operational costs through a paperless workflow

        Currently, there are 200,000 real-time transactions per day, a figure set to rise sharply in coming months. “For the Fund,” said Guiot, “Axway technology was again the clear choice: it’s an advanced, highly modular system that has proved its worth. Moreover, Axway offers excellent support: it’s an international company with a very local presence. We know Axway will ensure the continuity of the solution.”

        Deploying Axway API Gateway

        Co-production in action

        Axway API Gateway will govern the flow of data for a wide range of co-produced services, such as France’s welfare program. Until recently, the Fund was solely responsible for managing the program, including administrative tasks and payment of benefits. Changes in legislation have now shifted responsibility for administrative tasks to the General Councils, while local funds remain responsible for payment — their core business. Today, therefore, the welfare program is co-produced by the General Councils, the Fund and the paying banks — all using Axway API Gateway.

        The benefit to the Fund is clear: “With co-production of services,” said Guiot, “local funds can concentrate on their core business — managing benefits — and delegate other tasks to their partners. Strategic functions, such as financial control, remain with the Fund.”

        To ensure the integrity of the system, Axway API Gateway is implementing rigorous InterOps standards established by French authorities for the social protection sector. InterOps is designed to:

        • Ensure interoperability among organizations in the sector
        • Standardize, secure and ensure the traceability of data flows among those organizations
        • Enhance agility in the implementation of new data flows and partnerships

        Based on internationally recognized standards, InterOps implements SAML for authentication and authorization and ensures end-to-end traceability.

        Industrializing the development process

        Business benefits of Axway API Gateway

        Recently, the Fund launched the deployment phase of the project, and is gradually putting Axway API Gateway into production. The process has been vastly accelerated by the system’s modular design and predefined filters, bringing significant business benefits to the Fund, including:

        • Reduced total cost of ownership (TCO). “Our development time was slashed from 100 man-days to 15 man-days, generating a real cost savings,” said Guiot. “We’re industrializing the entire process,” he continued. “Overall, the Axway solution is lowering our TCO, as we’ll have a single solution managing all our real-time communications, rather than multiple systems that need to be separately operated and maintained.”
        • Enhanced customer satisfaction. When fully deployed, the Axway solution is expected to boost system availability, enabling the fund to meet performance requirements and thereby improve the customer experience. The Fund has internal and external SLAs that require full operational control, end-to-end visibility and 99.99 percent availability on weekdays. “We are convinced the Axway solution will enable greater system availability and provide an enhanced customer experience,” said Guiot.
        • Greater agility in the co-production of services. By industrializing the co-production process, the Fund will be able to rapidly implement new services for customers, integrate new partners, and make its employees more efficient on the job. The Axway solution will also enable the Fund to strengthen the fight against benefits fraud. The Fund works closely with its ecosystem of partners to compare information, report inconsistences, and otherwise verify that applicants are indeed qualified for benefits. Axway API Gateway is playing a vital role in the fight against fraud.

        The fund’s assessment

        Complete satisfaction

        According to the Fund, this is only the beginning. “We invested in Axway API Gateway to secure our real-time communications, ensure the integrity of our information systems, and industrialize our IT processes,” said Guiot. “Looking ahead, we foresee additional use cases for Axway API Gateway. We may well use it to secure our websites, handle internal encryption, and function as an internal token server.” Moreover, the Fund is considering using Axway API Gateway to provide mobile access to its website for beneficiaries. A highly flexible and scalable system, Axway API Gateway will take all these new tasks in stride.

        Looking at the global picture, Guiot remarked, “On the technical side, I’m fully satisfied with the product quality. On the support side, our relationship with Axway is excellent. In fact, I’m totally satisfied with the Axway solution.” 

        “Axway offers excellent support: it’s an international company with a very local presence. We know Axway will ensure the continuity of the solution.”
        Thierry Guiot, Security Infrastructure Manager, National Family Allowances Fund


        1Caisse National d’Allocations Familiales (CNAF)
        2Caisse d’Allocations Familiales (CAF)
        3Conseils Généraux
        4Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français (SNCF)

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