Ann Crotty Writer-at-large
Recipients queue to collect their their grant money. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL
Recipients queue to collect their their grant money. Picture: ALAISTER RUSSELL

The Net1 share price seems to have distanced itself from the continuing woes of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) contract. It has held on to recent gains made after the announcement early in November that it was going global with the technology behind its social grant payments system.

On Friday, the company announced more good news. It has appointed a new chief financial officer. Alex Smith, who has been a director and chief financial officer at Altron since 2008, is set to take up the Net1 position with effect from March 2018. The finance chief position at Net1 has been vacant since the beginning of June when former chief financial officer Herman Kotze was appointed CEO to replace Serge Belamant who was forced to resign in the wake of the Sassa scandal.

Kotze said he was thrilled that Smith was joining Net1.

"His international background, familiarity with public capital and debt markets and financial management experience across a diverse multisite group are important attributes as we embark on the most exciting time in our corporate history," Kotze said.

Altron thanked Smith "for his valuable contribution" and said it would announce a replacement in early 2018. Smith will work closely with the new finance chief during a handover period.

On Friday, the Altron share price remained unchanged at R163.50. It has gained significantly in the past three weeks, reaching a high of R180 after the announcement of a tie-up with Bitstamp to use Net1’s Masterpayment for cryptocurrency purchases. Bitstamp is a leading global digital currency exchange and the largest bitcoin exchange in the EU in terms of volume.

A few weeks earlier, Net1 announced it was boosting its efforts to grow its large-scale payment system technology across the globe.

It said that more than 2.5-billion people who are unbanked would benefit from the payment system that was similar to the one used by Cash Paymaster Services to distribute social grants in SA.

The recent comparative share price strength could come under pressure in the early months of 2018 as Sassa and the Department of Social Development battle to ensure a smooth handover of the grant distribution contract by the deadline of April 1.

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