22 August 2013
MasterCard and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) announced this week that there are now 10-million active SASSA Debit MasterCard cards in South Africa, following last year’s launch of a new biometric grant payment system.
Since March 2012, just under 22-million social grant beneficiaries have re-registered on the new system introduced by SASSA to minimise fraudulent grant applications and collections and reduce administration costs by distributing grant payments electronically.
According to the agency, the SASSA card’s biometric functionality identifies grant recipients using unique identifiers such as fingerprints, voice and other personal information, which means that the cards cannot be used by any person other than the approved beneficiary.
SASSA CEO Virginia Petersen said on Tuesday that over 150 000 grants had been cancelled between April 2012 and June 2013, amounting to an annual saving of R150-million.
“By simply 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,” MasterCard said in a statement.
Before March 2012, it cost SASSA on average R33 per grant to pay its beneficiaries. Under the new system, disbursement costs have been capped at R16.44 per payment.
As part of the SASSA re-registration process, each recipient has a bank account opened for them, which is offered free of monthly charges by Grindrod Bank.
Recipients can deposit funds into their bank account via electronic funds transfer or third party bank transfer, as well as use their cards to make purchases, check their account 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.