The affordable education loan option
Pretoria - A milestone was celebrated this week when 10 million social grant recipients became holders of MasterCard debit cards.
This was made possible through a partnership between the government and MasterCard to improve the lives of the poor and curb fraud and corruption which are rife in the disbursement of social grants.
SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) and MasterCard said they had moved fast and efficiently to create a world in which people carried less cash.
Between last March and June this year, Sassa re-registered just under 22 million beneficiaries, 10 million of whom would hold the MasterCard debit cards. “The delivery of this programme is something that should be celebrated,” MasterCard’s Philip Panaino said.
The project has, in its 17 months of operation, seen the biggest turnover MasterCard has participated in worldwide.
It was launched when beneficiaries were called to re-register and had their biometric details captured.
The system allows one card to hold multiple grants for beneficiaries in the same family.
“You have a grandmother receiving foster care grant, child support grant and others, so in some situations they were all put on to one card,” Sassa chief executive Virginia Petersen said.
She said the system eliminated duplication and ensured that only those who qualified received grants.
“It makes sure the right people get the right grant, all the time.”
The system has seen the cancellation of more than 150 000 grants.
One crucial aspect of the smart card system is its ability to identify grant recipients using unique features captured during registration.
It captures all 10 fingerprints, voice and other personal information, rendering the card useless to anyone else.
Said Petersen: “It brings with it options from the long queues at grant collection points and beneficiaries carrying money around.”
Beneficiaries can use the card at any point that allows MasterCard.
The card is poised to allow them to use it at discount points and transport services like Re A Vaya.
Petersen said the traditional methods of collecting grants in halls and selected shops was being phased out. “The debit card system and withdrawal at ATMs are the new collection methods.”
MasterCard’s president of international markets Ann Cairns said: “It’s an absolutely fabulous visionary project.”
She said they ran similar projects in 210 countries, but none had seen one like this one. “To create an environment where people with Sassa cards can use them at different places is phenomenal.”
Grant payments have moved from cash payment to electronic and moved beneficiaries into a “world beyond cash”.
The old system was costly, cumbersome and riddled with inefficiencies and Sassa reported that it had already saved the government R150 million a year in cancelled grants; R17 a grant; and was for two months last year cited as the main contributing factor to the 4 percent growth in the country.