MasterCard and the South African Social Security Agency announced on Tuesday that the number of active SASSA debit MasterCard cards in the country has risen to 10 million, following the introduction of a grant disbursement system in March 2012.
The project just concluded its re-registration phase, and social grant beneficiaries have received their new card with full biometric functionality.
Since March 2012, less than 22 million social grant beneficiaries have re-registered for the new system, which was designed to reduce fraud and administration costs by distributing all payments electronically.
The card’s biometric functionality identifies cardholders using unique identifiers, such as fingerprints and voice, meaning the cards cannot be used by any person other than the grant recipient.
“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 authorized to receive one of seven grants that SASSA offers,” SASSA CEO Virginia Petersen said. “Between April 2012 and June 2013, over 150,000 grants were cancelled, which has led to a saving of [approximately $15.1 million] per annum.”
Ann Cairns, the president of MasterCard’s international markets division, presented SASSA with an award to commemorate the program.
“By supporting the South African government in the implementation of a cost-effective electronic payments program, we are helping them save money, improve efficiencies and prevent fraud,” Cairns said. “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.”