Over 2.5m in SA use debit card for grants

2012-07-30 13:07

Cape Town - More than 2.5 million SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) debit cards have been issued to social grant recipients across the country as part of the social grants disbursements tender which was awarded to a Net1 UEPS Technologies subsidiary.

Recipients are able to use their Sassa debit cards to pay for goods and to check their account balances for free at till points. The debit cards also enable them to withdraw cash at ATMs and till points at major retaliers.

A key feature of the biometric functionality of the payment cards is that it is used to identify social grant recipients using unique identifiers such as fingerprints and other personal information. This means that the payment cards cannot be used by any person other than the approved beneficiary to collect his/her grant.

“The biometric information positively identifies the beneficiaries of state welfare grants and provides greater convenience, safety and security for recipients. Furthermore, it reduces the impact of fraud on government as the UEPS Biometrics solution will significantly reduce unlawful collection of grants, making sure that the funds made available by the South African government to assist those in need, are received by the people who need them the most,” said Serge Belamant, chairperson and CEO of Net1 in a statement.

Sassa controls and manages the disbursements of 15 million social benefits to 9.2 million beneficiaries, who receive one or more of seven different social security grants available in South Africa on a monthly basis.

Spending on social grants will grow from R105bn in 2012/13 to R122bn in 2014/15, according to the 2012 South African Budget Review.

The new system has drastically reduced Sassa's operating costs. Until recently it cost Sassa between R26 and R35 per grant to pay beneficiaries but now the costs have been reduced to R16.50 per payment. This would save the agency approximately R3bn in operating costs over the next five years.

"The early success of the project rollout affirms MasterCard's vision to create a world beyond cash, as electronic payments using Debit MasterCard cards opens up a world of financial inclusion for many South Africans who have previously not had access to banking products," said Dries Zietsman, Country Manager for MasterCard South Africa in a statement.

"With over 2.5 million cards already issued since rollout in March 2012, it is clear that the cards are already being widely accepted by beneficiaries who are realising the benefits of a cashless environment," he said.

 - Fin24