By Desie Heita
Commercial banks have further “Namibianised” their operations with the establishment of NAMSWITCH, which has replaced South Africa’s SASWITCH.
This means that, effective today, the clearing and processing of ATM transactions made at banks other than the client’s bank will no longer be executed in South Africa, but will be done locally.
However, this does not bring along cheaper transaction fees.
“The fees will remain the same,” said Chris Diemer of the Payment Association of Namibia (PAN).
Currently, consumers pay between N$5 and N$15 per transaction for the privilege of withdrawing money at a different bank’s ATM.
Diemer said the ATM card system works on volumes and Namibia’s volumes are insignificant compared to those of South Africa, and as such, business sense suggests an increase in transaction fees. But the decision to leave the transaction fee unchanged was a deliberate move by the commercial banks to avoid “shocking the market”, said Diemer.
NAMSWITCH is registered under the auspices of Namclear (Pty) Ltd, the clearinghouse of all commercial banks. The establishment of NAMSWITCH is part of the National Payment System’s reform project. Its key objective is to take the Namibian interbank domestic transactions, such as the processing, clearing and settling of electronic funds transfer, cheques, cards, out of the South African National Payment System and place them under the Namibia Inter-bank Settlement System (NISS).
“As an independent and sovereign state, Namibia is required to manage and control its own domestic exposure and risks independently from South Africa,” said a statement from PAN.