Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Tuesday that three major banks in SA will soon be taking applications for new smart card IDs.
Gigaba said that Standard Bank, Nedbank, and First National Bank had so far signed memoranda of understanding with the department.
However, Absa and Capitec, who make up the big five consumer banks in the country have explained their involvement in the service, while Standard Bank and Nedbank have provided more colour on how the system will work.
Standard Bank noted that it has 650 branches nationwide.
Head of retail banking, Sibongiseni Ngundze, said that Standard Bank will commence its pilot with the service with staff next month (March).
Existing customers will be able to apply for their new smart card IDs from Standard Bank as of April 2015.
“This isn’t the first time Standard Bank is rolling out a project of this scale. The bank successfully implemented a similar service to customers in Mozambique, in cooperation with the Mozambican government,” Ngundze said.
“As we are in a pilot phase, we will be starting the process with our Commercial and Business Banking customers as well as our Prestige and Private Banking customers. The pilot will run for six months, followed by a roll out to all customers. We are committed to rolling out this initiative as quickly as possible,” he said.
Standard Bank customers will be invited by appointment to come and enrol for their new smart card ID. The entire process will be handled by the Department of Home Affairs, who will have a dedicated office at the bank.
Customers will be able to have their photographs taken; finger print verified and pay for the new card all at this central office, the bank said.
Customers will be able to collect their new smart card IDs from Standard Bank’s offices in Rosebank or Simmonds Street in Johannesburg.
“Customers will be able to collect their smart card IDs within 10 working days. Due to safety and security reasons, customers will need to collect their cards in person,” Ngundze said.
Nedbank confirmed that it has been approached by the Department of Home Affairs to explore feasibility to enable clients to apply for the new Smart ID Card via its branch network.
“The bank is currently assessing its infrastructure and processes to assist with the initiative. The bank has committed to a single site pilot to test the requirements as set out in the proposed memorandum of understanding,” said Brian Duguid, managing executive of the Nedbank Integrated Channels.
Virginia Magapatona, FNB Head of Corporate Communications confirmed that the Memorandum Of Understanding has been signed with the Department of Home Affairs with regard to the processing of applications for Smart Card Identity Documents.
“As discussions are currently underway with the Department for the project, further queries will need to be directed to the Department of Home Affairs for their response,” she said.
An Absa spokesperson told BusinessTech that it will be participating in the application process.
“Together with the other major South African banks and the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric), Absa has engaged with the Department of Home Affairs on a number of occasions to discuss the roll-out of smart ID cards across the country.”
“Absa will be participating in the roll-out of the smart ID cards and fully supports government initiatives such as these,” Absa said.
Capitec however, said it would not be involved in the application and delivery of smart ID cards.
“The bank’s executive management committee did consider the possibility to be involved in the pilot,” a spokesperson said.
“The way it was put to us is that Home Affairs will have a separate kiosk inside the bank branch where the necessary registration procedures as well as subsequent card collection will take place.”
“It is by no means an integrated system and therefore our fingerprint-biometric or other technology, whilst very advanced, would actually have no role to play,” Capitec said.
The bank also noted that a branch consultant would not be able to service the banking needs of a client and then at the same time attend to the ID card needs – “it would need to be done at a separate kiosk staffed by a another person,” it said.
The bank pointed out that its branches are sized to service its clients in the most optimum manner, “and there are very few branches that would have the extra floor space needed to allocated space for a separate Home Affairs kiosk”.
“All of our available space is utilised to service clients so as to run our operations as lean and efficient as possible. This is one of the factors that enables us to keep costs down and pass the benefit on to our clients through our low banking fees.”
It said it did not have excess staff to deal with the expected volume of applications.
“Therefore we felt it would impact negatively on our clients’ core need – to receive prompt and efficient banking services.”
“On the basis of the factors explained above it was therefore our opinion that there would not be a substantial benefit to Capitec Bank clients if we were to take part in this pilot. We therefore declined the opportunity to do so,” Capitec said.
The DHA said that it has 70 offices accepting applications for the smart ID card, which will replace the current green ID book at a cost of R140.