The eNatis system relies on dedicated Telkom lines to serve every vehicle registering authoraty in South Africa. Picture: eNatis
PRETORIA - An initiative by South Africa’s banks has resulted in the creation of an electronic asset register to control and reduce fraud involving moveable assets that are excluded from registration on the electronic National Traffic Information System (eNatis).

Called the Southern African Moveable Asset Register (Samar), it will register “yellow metal” assets used by the construction and mining industries, forklifts, jet skis, off road buggies and agricultural equipment.

Samar will create the most recent reliable record of that asset by updating records in real time as changes were made by various system participants, including financiers, dealerships and insurers.

Kyle Dutton, the project manager of Samar, said yesterday that Samar was a private and completely independently managed company and currently had 30000 assets registered, but the market was much bigger than that and more assets needed to be registered.

Dutton said they did not know exactly how big this market was, but it was huge, adding that they estimated that about 60000 of these assets were financed worth in excess of R50billion in a single calendar year.

Barry Pitman, software developer at Ubiquitech, a shareholder in Samar, said Samar could almost be viewed as a parallel system to eNatis. He said Samar’s establishment became necessary because of regulations introduced in 2009 that no longer allowed vehicles that were not designed for use on public roads and could not legally pass a roadworthy test to be registered on eNatis.

Major reason

Dutton said the major reason for the existence of Samar was to prevent double discounting and from someone being able to get further financing on an asset that was already currently financed by another bank.

He said Samar would also prevent the on sale of stolen assets because the current ownership could be determined. “Any time that a bank wants to finance an asset, they check the asset first to see if another bank has an interest in the asset.

“The (bank’s) collection department will benefit. The fewer of these cases that we see, the fewer legal fees they are going to pay. That is really the benefit of doing this,” he said.

During the 2010 Fifa World Cup, one of the major banks financed 100 of those fancy portable toilets, which were worth more than R100000 each, but after the tournament was only able to recover three of them. There was not any unique identifier of these assets to prove ownership, Dutton said.

“Unfortunately due to lack of the marking of movable assets other than roadworthy and registered vehicles, millions of rand are lost each year due to multiple financing on the same asset, the inability to claim ownership after an insurance claim payout or the inability to recover items in the second hand market or criminal sales point.

“It is crucial, however, for both the financier and insurer to be able to have access to a database where the owner could be linked to the specific asset in question. This is what Samar aims to provide,” he said.

Dutton said all the major banks with the exception of one were signed up to Samar, but all the banks needed to be signed up for the initiative to be successful. Pitman said assets would be micro-dotted when they were registered on Samar.