Post office upgrades Sassa payment infrastructure ahead of July payment cycle

THE South African Post Office (Sapo) has completed upgrades to its Sassa social grants IT system in time for the end-of-July payment cycle.

The upgrades will allow Sapo sufficient capacity to process grant payments transaction volumes involving social beneficiaries that have migrated to the new gold Sassa card. The IT improvements that Sapohas made have increased its processing capacity to better than 160 transactions per second — an improvement of more than 700% — in line with banking industry standards.

“Our IT systems are ready for the upcoming month-end payments and we are confident that social grants beneficiaries will witness a smooth payments experience.

“The technicians have been working tirelessly with industry stakeholders since the beginning of the month to optimise our transaction capacity. Infrastructure upgrades have also been implemented on Postbank’s connectivity to Bankserv to improve transaction speeds,” SAPO Chief Operattions Officer Lindiwe Kwele said.

Sapo is the gazetted preferred payment channel for all social grants in South Africa in a government-led initiative. Sapo and Sassa are currently in the process of migrating social grants beneficiaries to a new gold Sassa card that is tailored to prevent illegal deductions on social grants.

It is important to note that beneficiaries that have switched to the new gold Sassa card do not have to go queue at the Post Office to access their money.

On midnight of July 31, beneficiaries money will be credited into their accounts and they are then free to make transactions with their cards from any of the channels available to them.

“It is important for social grants beneficiaries to note that, once you have switched to the new gold Sassa card, you cannot use the new card at your previous Sassa pay-point. Your social grant money will automatically be paid into the new card and, if you so wish, you can withdraw cash at any ATM, over the till at shops such as Shoprite and Boxer, at the Post Office, or you can simply use your card to buy goods at any shops that accepts bank cards,” said Kwele.

Accordingly to Kwele, the reason social grants beneficiaries are not able to use the new Sassa cards in the old pay-points is that, for proprietary reasons, the new social grants payment system is not compatible with the outgoing one.

Sassa is also in the process of rationalizing its pay-points, and some of them may be decommissioned.

The old white Sassa card will expire at the end of September 2018 and beneficiaries should use the limited time left to switch to the new card.

To get the new Sassa card, beneficiaries should take their ID to any Sassa office, selected Post Office branch, or a dedicated card-swap site.