South Africa’s banked population has grown to 27,4-million in 2013, meaning about 75% of the country’s citizens are now banked.
This is one of the findings of the FinMark Trust FinScope South Africa 2013 consumer survey that measures and profiles levels of access to financial services among South Africans aged 16 and older.
Dr Prega Ramsamy, CEO of FinMark Trust, explained that the overall increase in the banked population has been driven by two key factors: the roll out of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) MasterCard Debit cards, which contributed 1,9-million people to the banked population in 2013; and organic banking growth.
“The success of the Sassa Debit MasterCard card roll out is having a significant impact on the South African payments system, on socio-economic development and most importantly on the cardholders who can now manage their finances in a much more dignified, convenient and safe way,” says Philip Panaino, division president of MasterCard South Africa.
Since March 2012, 10-million Sassa Debit MasterCard cards have been issued to grant recipients, following the introduction of a new grant disbursement system introduced by Sassa to minimise fraudulent grant applications and collections and reduce grant administration costs by distributing all grant payments electronically.
As part of the SASSA re-registration process, each recipient has a bank account opened for them, which is offered free of monthly charges by Grindrod Bank. Recipients can deposit funds into their bank account via electronic funds transfer (EFT) or third party bank transfer.
The Sassa Debit MasterCard card can be used anywhere MasterCard is accepted, and grant recipients can make purchases, check their account balances and withdraw cash at till points without incurring transaction charges at selected South African retailers. Recipients can also withdraw cash at any ATM, which does however attract transaction charges.
In its National Development Plan, government challenged the financial sector to achieve financial inclusion of 70% in the country by 2013, with a target of 90% set for 2030.
“The strides taken to reach the under and unbanked population to increase financial inclusion by both government and the financial services sector have had a substantial impact in 2013, reaching 8% more South Africans than in 2012, and exceeding the 2013 target of 70% set by government. This places South Africa in a strong position to meet its 2030 target. However, access should be accompanied by financial education,” says Ramsamy.
The survey also revealed that 65% of banked adults surveyed prefer using bank cards instead of cash to make their purchases.
“It is clear that electronic payments are being embraced by millions of South Africans who are now realising the benefits of a cashless society,” says Panaino.
“It is our goal to continue to grow financial inclusion both in South Africa and abroad by introducing innovative payment solutions that will help make transacting quicker, safer and more convenient for everyone, everywhere and whenever needed.”