The number of South Africans over the age of 16 who are banked has reached 60% – a 20% increase from 2006 – and is could be attributed to the ubiquitous debit card.
According to survey of financial use and behaviour conducted by FinScope, this represents a real growth in the banking sector and unquestionably, Mzansi accounts are a driving force behind this substantial increase.
Enoch Malisa, GManager: business sevelopment of Postbank, South Africa's biggest single issuer of Mzansi accounts, believes that this growth can be attributed to the increase of debit card usage in the Mzansi market.
"Our Visa-branded Postbank debit card, which was launched in May 2006, enables customers to purchase directly from merchants, nationally and internationally, without having to carry cash.
"The convenience and relatively low cost of debit cards, compared to other payment methods, makes this method of payment a very attractive option for the Mzansi market," says Malisa.
At the end of July 2008, debit card usage among Postbank customers showed a steady increase and to date, a total of 2,22-million Postbank debit cards have been issued to customers to replace ordinary ATM cards.
"This points to a growing level of sophistication among the South African public," says Malisa.
He says that debit cards are a viable choice for the Mzansi market because they offer a greater level of safety as account holders can use their debit card at any retailer with a point-of-sale, eliminating the risk of theft that goes with carrying cash. Debit cards also lower the risk of cash robbery for a retailer, and more retailers in outlying areas are now offering a debit card facility.
In addition, debit cards are easy to use and can be used internationally. This is an important point for the many Postbank customers who have ties in neighbouring countries.
"We have noticed that many of our customers who have a Postbank debit card gained a huge amount of self-esteem when they progressed from keeping their money under the mattress to having their own bank account with the latest technology. Moreover, they have joined the cashless society. We look forward to welcoming more customers and bringing card payments to everyone, wherever they live and whatever the challenges," says Malisa.