Smart Card Replaces Old Savings Book

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By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK A revolutionary state-of-the-art technological financial system called the ‘Smart Card’ has now replaced the largely antiquated savings book banking system for people banking with NamPost Namibia. Under a newly-established company Smart Switch Namibia, chaired by former Nedbank Managing Director Martin Shipanga, Nampost Namibia in partnership with internationally known Net 1 Universal Electronic Payment System (U.E.P.S.) has started a viable and affordable financial solution in Namibia especially for the vast majority of the country’s non-banking citizens. The Smart Card introduced by NamPost is a chip-based debit card with multi-functional wallet allocations. The latest development came from an agreement signed last September between NamPost Savings Bank and Net 1 U.E.P.S. Technologies Incorporated. The joint venture resulted in the establishment of a company called Smart Switch Namibia (Pty) Ltd (SNN) under the chairmanship of Shipanga. SNN is a 50/50 percent joint venture between NamPost and Net 1 U.E.P.S. Technologies Incorporated. Smart Switch Namibia would now provide smart cards and point of sale devices to NamPost after the product was introduced on Monday. This means 120 NamPost Savings Bank branches in the country would now be able to replace the old dark-blue savings books of their clients. According to NamPost’s Project Manager Ambrosius Iipinge, the whole idea of starting the Smart Card technology is for the postal bank to keep abreast with advancing technology, eliminate fraud and ultimately provide Namibians with an affordable, secure and easy to use system even in remote rural areas. “In the past, people were trying to defraud NamPost through their savings books, but now NamPost is getting a safe and secure system through the Smart Card as we are keeping with modern technology to be in business,” explained Iipinge. Iipinge said smart cards to be inserted into the Point of Sale (POS) Device are to be provided to all interested merchants, namely at supermarkets, petrol stations, chemists, stores and post offices. All current NamPost banking products would be transferred to the Smart Card. “It is all done electronically, the money will be stored on the chip that links to the account. “The card also has offline capabilities and we take up to 10 fingerprints of the client onto the chip of the card,” added Iipinge. All shopping and payment transactions could be conducted through the card, whereby a conventional fingerprint verification is used on the POS instead of a pin code. This is called the Biometric Fingerprint Identification System where “dead fingers cannot be read,” eliminating elements of fraud. So, even if a client loses his hand, arms or is physically challenged, he/she can nominate a legal representative. Other security reasons are that no one else can access one’s card as each transaction is verified by the card owner’s fingerprint. At the recent agreement signing ceremony, Nam-Post’s Chief Executive Officer Sakaria Nghikembua said that the card would work on a debit card principle, where NamPost will enrol merchants in different towns and villages throughout Namibia. Each of these merchants will have Smart Card terminals of point of sale devices in which transactions could be made. The new system would eliminate long queues, promote accessibility, enhance low transaction costs for the vast majority of clients, less administration costs and its off-line capabilities ensures that everyone has access to affordable banking services in the country. “The Smart Card will do more than just facilitate savings bank products. It has numerous other applications and will assist widely in facilitating social welfare payments, national voting, medical benefits administration and fleet management,” said Nghikembua. For now, all the over 250 000 clients of NamPost as well as interested new clients need to convert their savings books into Smart Cards before February 13, 2006, which is the day on which the Smart Card system will be activated for transactional use. Namibia is the 10th country to join the latest Universal Electronic Payment System (U.E.P.S.) in the world after South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Latvia, Burundi, Mozambique, Rwanda and the former Soviet Union. U.E.P.S. was first developed by Dr Serge Belamant, Founder and Chairman of Net 1 U.E.P.S Technologies, Incorporated.