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South Africa Looks to Biometrics for Welfare Benefits

March 16, 2017

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South Africa is the latest country to look towards biometrics as a way of safely and securely delivering governmental services. It seems the Government believes that solutions based on biometrics, are one way of ensuring that the benefits people are entitled to receive, actually reach them personally.

South Africa Looks to Biometrics for Welfare Benefits

Combating fraud

South Africa has been encouraged and inspired by the success and traction that similar programmes have gained in other parts of the world, most notably India. The Government of South Africa is trying to replicate some of that success, and is looking to use biometrics as a means of safely delivering social welfare payments to those that qualify.

In particular, Lumka Oliphant, CEO of the Department of Social Development and the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), believes that biometrics will help combat fraud in the system. The department believes abuse and theft of the welfare system is currently too easy and therefore too common. She said:

“This is the reason biometric verification must be at the centre of recipient authentication as advised by the Taylor Committee report in 2002, and I will not backdown on this requirement.”

Pluses for providers and users

Biometrics are certainly a much harder authentication system to trick or work your way around. Such a system could be vital for those most in need, ensuring they get the support to which they are entitled. And it’s an easy system for them to understand too. All they need is their own fingerprint, rather than any complicated form of ID – which may well have been both a barrier to them and an opening for the fraudsters in the first place.

SASSA’s use of biometrics has already saved up to R2 billion (US$153 million) according to Oliphant. And just like in India, South Africa is looking to see what more can be done with the system beyond welfare payments. Banks in the country are being encouraged to incorporate biometric solutions into their services for example.

Around the world, governments are seeing and recognising the benefits that biometrics can bring. Here at BioStore, we know just how smoothly and seamlessly they can make organisations of all sizes run. Of course, the challenge the technology will face, is to ensure that when it is implemented on a national scale, the processes are carried out correctly. That is critical to the integrity of the system if it’s going to be widely adopted and used.

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