SASSA debit Mastercard reaches milestone
The South African Society Security Agency (SASSA) and MasterCard say there are 10 million active SASSA Debit MasterCard cards in South Africa following the introduction of the new grant payment disbursement system that commenced in March last year.
The milestone marks the conclusion of the re-registration phase project, with social grant beneficiaries having received their new Debit MasterCard card with biometric functionality.
SASSA, since March lat year, just under 22 million social grant beneficiaries have re-registered onto the new system introduced by it to minimise fraudulent grant applications, collections and reduce grant administration costs by distributing all grant payments electronically.
According to MasterCard a crucial feature of the SASSA card’s biometric functionality is that it positively identifies social grant recipients using unique identifiers such as fingerprints, voice and other personal information. Meaning no other person other than the approved beneficiary can collect the grant.
Virginia Petersen SASSA CEO explains that the new system has been implemented to take care of the most vulnerable in society. “A key driver of the new system was to put stringent measures in place for SASSA to ensure that only qualifying grant recipients are authorised to receive one of seven grants that SASSA offers” she says.
Petersen says the new system has also ensured that no money goes to non-qualifying beneficiaries. “Between April 2012 and June 2013, over 150 000 grants were cancelled, which has led to a savings of R150 million per annum”.
Petersen adds that “by moving all grant payments from largely cash payments, which were costly, cumbersome and riddled with inefficiencies, to electronic payments, the new system has already saved SASSA a considerable amount in grant administration costs”.
Ann Cairns, MasterCard President of International Markets, presented SASSA with a commemorative award to acknowledge SASSA’s world-leading social grants payment. “By supporting the South African government in the implementation of cost effective electronic payments programme, we are helping them save money, improve efficiencies and prevent fraud. More importantly, we are opening up a world of financial inclusion to millions of South Africans who haven’t previously had access to traditional financial services”.
According to the FinScope South Africa 2012 Survey, between March and July 2012, the SASSA Debit MasterCard card was cited as the main contributing factor to the 4% growth in the country’s banked population from 63% in 2011, to 67% in 2012.
Cairns made a point that with the SASSA Debit MasterCard card; millions of people can now use formal banking products to their advantage and for their family’s needs. “Millions of South Africans lack access to the most basic financial tools. They don’t have secure places to save money or reliable means to transfer it and use it for transacting. Through the introduction of the SASSA Debit MasterCard card, nearly one fifth of the South African population now benefits from having a formal banking product, helping them build a stronger future for themselves, their families and their communities”.
Benefits to the SASSA Debit MasterCard card are that it can be used anywhere MasterCard cards are accepted, and grant recipients can make purchases, check their balances and withdraw cash at till points without incurring transaction charges at selected South African retailers. Recipients can also withdraw cash at any ATM, which does however attract transaction charges.
“it is our goal to continue to introduce innovative payment solutions that help make transacting quicker, safer and more convenient for everyone, everywhere and whenever needed and to realise MasterCard’s vision of creating a world beyond cash” Cairns concluded.