The problem with the distribution of 17-million social grants every month is that it is hard to do, at least if it’s done properly. The difficulty is the requirement that every recipient be validated through biometrics. This requirement, which Sassa (South African Social Security Agency) insists on as an anti-fraud measure and to prove that recipients are still alive, effectively prevents the mainstream banking system from taking on the task. There are two distinct components to grant distribution, each with their own challenges. Between 60% and 90% of the R15bn in grants paid every month are paid into bank accounts. The balance is paid at paypoints and partner retailers in cash to recipients. The paypoints tend to be in rural areas, where access to banks is difficult. They are massive logistical exercises with the obvious security challenges. Bank account payments are not straightforward either, because of the biometric requirement. When the initial tender was made, the banks said ...

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