MasterCard and the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) have on Tuesday (20 August) announced that there are 10 million active Sassa Debit MasterCard cards in South Africa.
This follows the introduction of the new biometric grant payment disbursement system which commenced in March 2012.
This milestone also marks the conclusion of the re-registration phase of the project.
Since March 2012, just under 22 million social grant beneficiaries have re-registered onto the new system introduced by Sassa to minimise fraudulent grant applications and collections and reduce grant administration costs by distributing all grant payments electronically.
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.
“A key driver of the new system was to put stringent measures in place for Sassa to ensure that only qualifying grant recipients – those really in need – are authorised to receive one of seven grants that Sassa offers,” said Virginia Petersen CEO, Sassa.
“Between April 2012 and June 2013, over 150,000 grants were cancelled, which has led to a saving of R150 million (about US$15.1 million) per annum.”
Sassa estimated that the new system has already saved it a considerable amount in grant administration costs. Before March 2012, it cost Sassa on average R33 (US$3.33) per grant to pay beneficiaries.
Under the new system, disbursement costs have been capped at R16.44 (US$1.66) per payment.
Between March 2012 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 according to the FinScope South Africa 2012 survey.
As at July 2012, 2.5 million Sassa MasterCard cards had been issued to grant recipients. Since then an additional 7.5 million cards have been issued to grant recipients which should further increase financial inclusion in South Africa.
The Sassa Debit MasterCard card can be used anywhere MasterCard cards are accepted, and grant recipients can 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.