SASSA Releases Schedule for Cash Pay Points Closures

SASSA Releases Schedule for Cash Pay Points Closures

In a significant move, SASSA and Postbank have announced the discontinuation of all physical Cash Payment Points (CPPs), including cash withdrawals of grants within Post Offices. This transition, which began in January 2024, is expected to be completed by the end of March 2024. It is reported that fewer than 2% of all SASSA social grants recipients will be impacted by this change.

This decision is a key component of a larger plan that was introduced for SASSA grant payments in 2018, signifying the start of a transformative period in social grant payments.

Postbank’s spokesperson, Dr. Bongani Diako, emphasized that the Post Office will continue to offer non-cash services including

  • card reinsurance,
  • PIN resets
  • Statement printing for South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) beneficiaries.

SASSA Releases Schedule for Cash Pay Points Closures

A total of 870 cash pay points operated by the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) will be closing. To assist affected beneficiaries, SASSA has issued a closure schedule indicating when these points across South Africa will cease operations. Below is a province-wise breakdown of the closures:

  • Eastern Cape: 277 points
  • Free State: 26 points
  • Western Cape: No closures
  • Gauteng: 6 points
  • Northern Cape: 13 points
  • North West: 96 points
  • Limpopo: 216 points
  • Mpumalanga: 53 points
  • Kwazulu-Natal: 183 points

These closures are part of the transition away from cash payments, with the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) encouraging beneficiaries to use alternative payment channels such as the SASSA grant card, which functions like a bank card and can be used at various retailers and ATMs.

Why Is this Happening

The phase out happened because beneficiaries encounter several challenges when withdrawing funds from, including

  • Risks associated with cash-in-transit heists and
  • Unfavorable conditions at the cash payment point (cpp) locations.
  • Additionally, the post office is grappling with capacity difficulties and potential closures.

The decision to discontinue cash services at Post Offices is also attributed to the financial challenges faced by the Post Office. Over the last three years, it has incurred a total loss of R6 billion, with an additional R2.2 billion loss in the 2022/2023 financial year.

As part of its business rescue plan, the South African Post Office (SAPO) intend to close 420 unprofitable branches and reduce its workforce by 6,000 employees. Additionally, there is a possibility of a R3.8 billion government bailout. The plan also involves discontinuing revenue streams that have proven ineffective in generating income.

SASSA and Postbank decided to address these issues by transitioning beneficiaries to other National Payment System (NPS) access channels. As of December 2023, approximately 98% of SASSA beneficiaries already utilize various NPS channels for grant withdrawals, minimizing the impact of this change on most beneficiaries. So, most probably, fewer than 2% of all SASSA social grants recipients will be impacted by this change.

Where should Sassa grant beneficiaries get their Sassa money then?

Beneficiaries of SASSA Gold Card social grants, who were previously using s and Post Office branches, can use their cards at any outlet that accepts bank cards. This includes swiping for goods at any point of sale or withdrawing funds from any retailer that offers cashback functionality.

The SASSA grant card, which functions like a bank card, can be used to withdraw money via various National Payment System (NPS) channels. These channels include retailers such as Boxer, Pick n Pay, Spar, Shoprite, Usave, and Checkers, as well as ATMs. This change provides beneficiaries with more flexibility and convenience in accessing their grants.

Will Gold Cards Expire?

The SASSA Gold Cards expiry is extended up to 2025, ensuring uninterrupted access to grant payments for millions of beneficiaries. This ensures continuity in the payment of social grants, reinforcing SASSA’s commitment to serving its beneficiaries.

 Beneficiaries need not switch to cards from other banks, as the existing SASSA Gold Cards will function normally. These cards are particularly beneficial for marginalized groups, providing easy access to funds, especially in rural areas.

Gold cardholders enjoy perks like fee-free withdrawals and statements. ATMs across the country accept SASSA cards, taking care of the convenience and precious time of beneficiaries.

The Rationale for the Move

The decision to transition away from cash distribution at CPPs was not made overnight. Announced in 2018, this strategic move was grounded in a commitment to improve the overall customer experience. Several factors contributed to this decision.

  • Escalating cash-in-transit heists posed a significant risk to the safety of the beneficiaries and the staff.
  • Unfavorable conditions at some of the CPP sites and the closure and capacity challenges at many Post Offices further exacerbated the situation.
  • By migrating beneficiaries to other National Payment System (NPS) access channels, these challenges are being proactively addressed, ensuring the safety and convenience of the beneficiaries.

SASSA Payments Future Speculations

As of December 2023, approximately 98% of SASSA beneficiaries were already using various NPS channels to withdraw their grants. Therefore, the majority of SASSA beneficiaries will not be affected by this change. The goal is to ensure that every person receives their grant in the most efficient, safe, secure, reliable, and convenient manner.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the phasing out of cash paypoints by SASSA marks a significant step towards modernizing social grant payments. While this transition may pose challenges in the short term, it promises to enhance the overall experience of beneficiaries in the long run. SASSA, as a responsible organization, continues to uphold its mission of providing efficient and accessible social security services to its beneficiaries.

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