DebiCheck, which enables bank account holders to approve or verify debit order transactions, has gone live across 10 banks, including Absa, Bidvest, Capitec, First National Bank, Nedbank, Standard Bank and Ubank. This was announced earlier this week at the biennial conference of the Payments Association of South Africa (Pasa).

DebiCheck, which has cost South Africa’s banks over R4 billion and has been in development since 2013, processes a debit order only if the mandate for the debit order has been electronically verified by the bank account holder. Your bank will not process a debit order if it falls outside the conditions agreed by you, the consumer.

Until now, there has not been much you could do to prevent a third party that has access to your bank account number from placing a debit order on your account without your consent. You would have to monitor your account to notice this, and disputing the transaction with your bank would be a long process that may or may not result in the debit being reversed.

With DebiCheck, you receive an SMS or a pop-up message on your banking app, asking you to confirm that someone wants to debit your account for a certain amount. You confirm or deny the debit order.

Although the main aim of DebiCheck is to reduce fraud, it will also enhance the relationship between banks and customers, which is necessary in an industry being disrupted by non-bank payment systems such as SnapScan, WhatsApp Pay and Google.

Pasa chief executive Walter Volker told the conference that DebiCheck will be a game-changer. “It’ll definitely become something I think most consumers will know about come the next few months.”

Volker says entities that debit your account will have to adopt DebiCheck. “What we have to do is now sign on what we call the users, such as call centres, insurance companies and micro lenders. The trick now is to bring on 4 600 users.” 

He says the system will apply only to new debit orders. “If you’ve got current debit orders, those will stay as they are.”