It is easy to get lost in the complex terminology of social-grants payments and the complex mechanics of getting R142bn a year from state coffers to beneficiaries. Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), a subsidiary of JSE-listed Net1, won the R10bn contract to perform this task from the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) in 2012, based largely on its ability to undertake biometric authentication of beneficiaries for enrolment and payment. This is how the process works, based mainly on last week’s presentation to Parliament’s social development committee by Tim Masela, head of the Reserve Bank’s national payment system department: Beneficiaries get payments using a smart card that can operate in the national payment system. When Sassa and Net1 capture details and biometrics of beneficiaries on registration, a beneficiary opens a bank account with Grindrod Bank, which issues a debit card endorsed by MasterCard. The debit card has a pin and/or Net1 biometric capability. Sassa valida...

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