Ten Million SASSA MasterCard cards issued to South African Social Grant Beneficiaries

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MasterCard and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) have announced that there are 10 million active SASSA Debit MasterCard cards in South Africa, following the introduction of the new biometric grant payment disbursement system that commenced in March 2012.

This milestone marks the conclusion of the re-registration phase of the project, with social grant beneficiaries having received their new Debit MasterCard cards with biometric functionality, issued by Grindrod Bank in association with SASSA and Net1 UEPS Technologies (Net1).

Since March 2012, just under 22 million social grant beneficiaries have re-registered onto the new system introduced by SASSA to minimise fraudulent grant applications and collections and reduce grant administration costs by distributing all grant payments electronically.

A crucial feature of the SASSA card’s biometric functionality is that it positively identifies social grant recipients using unique identifiers such as fingerprints, voice and other personal information, which means that the SASSA cards cannot be used by any person other than the approved beneficiary to collect his/her grant.

“A key driver of the new system was to put stringent measures in place for SASSA to ensure that only qualifying grant recipients – those really in need – are authorised to receive one of seven grants that SASSA offers. Between April 2012 and June 2013, over 150,000 grants were cancelled, which has led to a saving of R150 million (about USD15.1m) per annum,” explained Virginia Petersen CEO, SASSA.

By simply moving all grant payments from largely cash payments, which were costly, cumbersome and riddled with inefficiencies, to electronic payments, the new system has already saved SASSA a considerable amount in grant administration costs. Before March 2012, it cost SASSA on average R33 (USS3.33) per grant to pay beneficiaries. Under the new system, disbursement costs have been capped at R16.44 (USD1.66) per payment.

Ann Cairns, President of International Markets commented: “By supporting the South African government in the implementation of a cost-effective electronic payments programme, we are helping them save money, improve efficiencies and prevent fraud,” said Cairns. “More importantly, we are opening up a world of financial inclusion to millions of South Africans who haven’t previously had access to traditional financial services.”

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