MasterCard and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) have announced that nearly one fifth of the South African population now has a SASSA Debit MasterCard.

Since launching the joint scheme in March 2012, SASSA and MasterCard have distributed 10 million of the cards to approved social grant beneficiaries.

Ann Cairns, President of International Markets at MasterCard, said: "Ten million cards distributed to grant recipients in just 17 months is an outstanding achievement.

"What is more remarkable, however, is the impact that the SASSA Debit MasterCard card has had, and will continue to have, on the lives of the grant beneficiaries, and on the national economy in general."

The new card identifies users by unique features such as fingerprints, voice recognition and other personal details, meaning that they cannot be used by anyone but the approved beneficiary to collect their grant.

This new feature has allowed SASSA to clamp down on fraudulent grant applications and reduce the cost of administration by distributing all grants electronically.

Virginia Peterson, CEO of SASSA, said: "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 ZAR150m ($14.7m) per annum."


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