Grant recipients move with the times
According to the report released by FinMark Trust , “The Payment Experience of Social Grant Beneficiaries”, in April last year payments were split almost evenly, with 51% receiving grants electronically from ATMs and 49% taking cash.
The figures showed a marked shift from December 2007 when only 23% of recipients received electronic payments.
The report found that the methods of payment had little impact on factors such as collection time, and peri-urban areas were more subject to collection problems than either urban or rural areas.
Recipients in peri-urban areas had to travel for longer and were more at risk of robbery.
In general, though, the report disproved the notion that recipients were often robbed when collecting their grants. Only 3% of cash recipients and 4% of electronic recipients said they had been robbed.
“We found that very gratifying. Whenever you ask about security in South Africa, there’s always a much worse perception of security than the data,” said Penelope Hawkins, who presented the report.
Trust played a major role in the method of payment chosen. Those who used cash often did not feel safe at an ATM; others trusted the ATM system because they could nominate someone else to collect payment on their behalf.
“The reality is that everybody goes on payday,” Hawkins said, noting that recipients usually withdrew all their money at once.
ATM technical failures were not cited as a problem. Only 12% in peri-urban areas said they could not draw money on the day they chose to.
The method of payment affected the speed of the grant’s collection slightly.
Both groups usually used a taxi to reach their collection point. But whatever the mean of transport, it took just under 30 minutes for half of all recipients, and 31 to 60 minutes for a third of recipients.
Recipients were mainly satisfied with the payment process – 98% of electronic payment recipients and 93% of cash recipients said they were happy with their method of payment.
“They see [the grant] as a gift,” Hawkins said, which had adverse consequences. “There is a sense where people appear to be afraid to criticise [the process] because they’re afraid if they make a fuss they won’t get a grant at all.”
Most grant recipients were female – 80% in urban areas, 92% in peri-urban areas and 90% in rural areas – and the average age of grant recipients is 34 years.
“That was a surprise for us,” Hawkins said. “Another surprise was that 21% of recipients have an education through grade 12 or above.”
The average period of collection was seven years.
In December 2011, the government was providing about 15.4-million grants to 10.3-million recipients – a monthly total of R7.8-billion without administration costs.