Competitors Feel Threatened by NamPost

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Dear Editor I refer to an article published in The Namibian of 10 March 2006, on page 10 and compiled by a Nampa reporter. This article refers to pensioners at Gobabis, who are apparently unhappy about Nam-Post’s Smart Card. The reporter indicated that social pension benefits were paid through Smart Card at the Gobabis post office this month. In one paragraph the reporter states “…pensioners Nampa spoke to on Wednesday said the system was very slow compared to the previous one, which entailed using a post office savings bank book”, adding that “Eises (Postmaster, Gobabis) said pensioners usually get their money on the 7th of each month, but this month the data was not on-line and therefore they only started paying out pensions on Wednesday.” I wish to highlight a few facts, in the interest of fuller and more truthful information: (a) Firstly, the reporter wrongly concluded that the delay in paying out the pensions was directly attributable to the new Smart Card product. NamPost does not pay out the social pensions through Smart Card yet. That is to say, pensioners’ money is not deposited into their Smart Card accounts. Instead, they get a cash pay-out which is made through our post office counter system called Riposte. Riposte has served us well all these years, and continues to do so. The link to the Smart Card, and the conclusion that ‘this system is slow compared to the previous one which entailed using a post office savings book”, are therefore clearly incorrect. Obviously, going forward, it would make sense for us to migrate to a dispensation where pension pay-outs are also done through the Smart Card. (b) Secondly, we experienced a problem transferring the pensions data for Gobabis from our central server, in Windhoek, to the Gobabis post office. NamPost receives the pay-out data monthly from the Department of Social Welfare, and then distributes this data to the relevant post offices. When we realized the problem, we immediately started working on it, and were able to fix it during the late afternoon of 7 March 2006. The transfer of data to Gobabis was finalized at 16h53 on that day. The post office started paying out immediately the next morning, 8 March 2006, and worked beyond normal working hours to ensure pensioners who were at the post office by the normal closing time of 16h30, were attended to on the same day. (c) Thirdly, we serve a total of over 25 000 pension beneficiaries monthly at different post offices country-wide. Payouts at these post offices proceeded as normal, since we did not experience any problems with the transmission of data to these post offices. Gobabis was, therefore, an isolated case for this month and experienced a delay of one working day. In sum, Riposte and Smart Card are two different systems. Pension payouts are done through Riposte and NOT Smart Card. Pensioners get paid out in cash. Smart Card is currently used for our savings bank products. Ideally, we would want to effect pension pay-outs through Smart Card as such a move will have numerous benefits for the pensioners. Amongst these benefits are: – Security of the pen-sioner’s money. No one else, except the pensioner or their authorized representative, will be able to access the money. The authorized representative only applies in the case where a pensioner is bed-ridden or home-bound. But in that event, too, the pensioner would have to give the power of attorney, in the normal way, to their representative; and the repre-sentative’s fingerprints will have to be taken and stored on both the pensioner’s Smart Card and on our host system; – The pensioner does not have to queue up on a specific day at the post office. They can collect their money at any time during or after payment date; – The pensioner would also be able to make purchases at shops and other businesses that will have signed up as merchants where the Smart Card can be used. The process to sign up merchants is vigorously under-way. With the introduction of the Smart Card by NamPost, we have become a significant threat to many competitors. Both our competitors and ourselves know as much. We are aware of a campaign from some of our competitors to try and spread wrong information about the Smart Card. They do this, regrettably, because they fear competition. They also use various channels to increase their chances of reaching as many people as possible. They fear us because we are now able to provide financial services at highly affordable rates to the people of Namibia. We are determined to play that role, and will continue to stand for what is good for Namibia. In the final analysis, we acknowledge that, when dealing with extensive business operations, challenges will emerge from time to time. This is exactly what happened with the transmission of data to Gobabis earlier this week. However, the key success factor in service provision is to deal with those challenges as and when they occur. Again, this is exactly what we did when we immediately worked on and resolved the problem the same day; and this is what we did when we requested our employees in Gobabis to extend working hours to serve customers who were at the post office by normal close of business on 8 March. I wish to extend our sincerest apologies to our customers for the delay experienced in paying out their pension money on time on 7 March and, simultaneously, assure them of our highest consideration at all times. Sakaria H. Nghikembua Chief Executive Officer Namibia Post Limited

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