When you can expect new bank branches for Smart IDs and Passports in South Africa

 ·16 May 2024

The full launch of the project to roll out Smart ID and Passport services to bank branches across South Africa has been delayed once again, with the pilot being extended to September 2024.

This comes after the last deadline – March 2024 – passed without South Africa’s banks and the Department of Home Affairs signing off on the final conversion of the project to a public-private partnership (PPP).

In late 2023, Home Affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the department had received confirmation from The Banking Association of South Africa that the participating banks are ready to sign the partnership agreements, saying that he was optimistic this would be done before the close of the 2023/24 financial year.

According to the Banking Association of South Africa, however, the discussions are still at “an advanced stage”.

BASA noted that the pilot programme is facilitated through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that provides the legal relationship between the parties.

“To ensure banks retain a legal framework to continue issuing DHA IDs and passports, the MOU has been extended until September (2024),” the group said.

BASA said the transition from the MOU to a PPP merely changes the legal relationship and allows the banks to recruit bank staff and for the DHA to reallocate their staff, which the department supplied to the banks to other DHA outlets.

It would also allow for the banks to purchase their own equipment and maintain it, BASA said.

“Therefore, implementation is not dependent on the legal framework,” it said.

The association said that South Africans can expect the rollout of new DHA branches at banks as soon as the PPP legal contract is finalised, “which is at an advanced stage”.

However, the association stressed that a full launch does not mean the perceived benefits will manifest immediately, as the recruitment of new staff and equipment can only begin once the PPP provides both parties with the authority to continue.

The Department of Home Affairs previously confirmed that over 43 bank branches are primed to roll out DHA services once the programme is in full swing. The department did not respond to queries.

Long journey

The eHome Affairs pilot with the banks was launched in 2015, which allowed the banks to provide an alternative channel to engage with the department, expanding its services.

It allows banking customers to book appointments on the digital platform to apply for and process Smart IDs and passports without having to step foot into a Home Affairs office.

The system has been in operation for almost nine years, with “periodical upgrades” being made. Over 3.5 million South Africans have used the bank branch system for the Smart IDs and passports, the department said.

The pilot was initially expected to end in March 2023, after which around 43 new bank branches were primed for rollout for the services.

However, this target was missed, and the pilot was extended to September 2023. In September, the department announced that the pilot would again be extended to March 2024, and now, in May, it has been confirmed that the pilot has been extended to September 2024.

As it stands, there are currently 30 bank branches offering DHA services.

Read: Banks are beating Home Affairs at its own game in South Africa

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