Postbank System Challenges – Social Grant Beneficiaries
On the 5th and 6th of September 2023, Postbank encountered intermittent system challenges that disrupted the lives of South Africa’s elderly and persons with disabilities who depend on the social grant for their daily livelihoods. These issues affected the functionality of ATMs and retailers, leading to failed withdrawal attempts and ‘transaction incomplete errors.’ However, the government and Postbank have been swift in their response to resolve these challenges and ensure that beneficiaries receive the support they need.
The System Challenges
The technical glitches primarily manifested as ‘transaction incomplete errors,’ which occur when a payment system encounters communication timeouts. This situation was further exacerbated by the fund auto reversals functionality being impacted by the system issues, preventing the automatic correction of these errors.
A Shared Concern for Social Grant Beneficiaries
The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) and the Department of Social Development (DSD) share the pain and frustration of the affected beneficiaries. These individuals rely on social grants to meet their basic needs, and any disruption can be profoundly distressing.
Resolution and Recovery
The good news is that the system challenges have been successfully resolved. Postbank’s system has been functioning optimally since the afternoon of September 6th, 2023. Consequently, the payments of child and all other grants on September 7th, 2023, were processed without any hitches, including across all National Payments (NPS) channels such as ATMs and retailers.
In a remarkable display of commitment, Postbank implemented a manual process to reverse funds into the affected beneficiaries’ accounts. Initially, this affected around 600,000 beneficiaries, which accounts for approximately 10% of the 5.3 million beneficiaries receiving social grants via Postbank’s SASSA Gold Cards every month. As of now, more than 500,000 fund reversals have been completed, ensuring that the affected beneficiaries receive their social grants payments in full.
Government’s Apology and Assurance
The government acknowledges the frustration and inconvenience these technical issues have caused, and they extend their sincere apologies to all stakeholders in the payment value chain. They also express gratitude for the support provided to all recipients of social grants during this challenging time.
Ensuring Every Beneficiary Is Paid
Rest assured, all social grant beneficiaries who have not yet received their payments will receive them in full. For those still encountering issues or requiring assistance, Postbank’s call center is ready to help at 0800 53 53 55. SASSA can also be reached at 080 060 10 11 for any necessary information regarding social grant payments.
Guarding Against Fraud
It’s important to note that there have been attempts to defraud the system, with some individuals trying to receive double payments. However, the systems in place are rigorous and thorough, making it nearly impossible to defraud the system without detection, ultimately delaying the process of valid reversals.
Card Validity Clarification
To dispel any misinformation, it’s crucial to emphasise that the September payment challenges are unrelated to the SASSA Gold Cards’ expiry. These issues were a result of a payment IT system glitch, which has been successfully resolved. SASSA Gold Cards remain valid and operational until December 2023, thanks to an extension granted by the South African Reserve Bank. Social grant beneficiaries are encouraged to ignore false information regarding the cards’ expiration.
Upcoming Card Replacement Programme for Social Grant Beneficiaries
In the coming weeks, the Department of Social Development and SASSA will jointly announce details regarding the SASSA cards replacement programme and unveil the new Postbank SASSA Grants Payments cards.
Future IT System Improvements
Furthermore, Postbank is making significant progress towards enhancing its banking IT systems, ensuring a secure and robust banking environment that aligns with commercial banks’ standards. This development will help prevent future system challenges of this nature, reinforcing the government’s commitment to establishing Postbank as a developmental state bank.
While the recent technical challenges were undoubtedly disruptive, the prompt response from the government and Postbank demonstrates their unwavering commitment to supporting vulnerable members of society. These challenges are being overcome, and steps are being taken to ensure they do not recur, ultimately strengthening the social grant system for the benefit of all South Africans.
If you require assistance or have any questions, please contact:
Postbank Call Center: 0800 53 53 55
SASSA Information Line: 080 060 10 11