MasterCard Launches SASSA-Like Program in Pakistan (June 2, 2014)
Building on its experiences from the rollout of the South African Social Security Agency initiative in 2012, which provides millions of South Africans a secure way to receive social grants, MasterCard has announced the launch of a similar program in Pakistan. The Social Security Program by MasterCard and the Bank of Punjab is intended to streamline government disbursement programs and promote financial inclusion among the country’s population—with a focus on Punjab, Pakistan’s largest province.
Bank of Punjab says it will issue millions of payment cards to a Pakistani population in which 90 percent are unbanked. The program also will improve efficiency of government initiatives, according to the announcement, including pension, payroll, education, micro lending and health care. Like the Paybefore Award-winning SASSA program, a key part of the initiative in Pakistan is the use of biometrics to verify a recipient’s identity when using the card at merchants across the country.
“The program will drive large-scale financial inclusion for the people of Pakistan,” said Raghu Malhotra, division president, Middle East and North Africa, MasterCard. “We see this initiative as a catalyst to empower the population and help the government to improve transparency and efficiency.”
Since the 2012 program launch in South Africa, 10 million active SASSA MasterCard Debit cards have been issued for biometric grant payment disbursement, according to MasterCard. Nearly 22 million social grant beneficiaries have benefitted from the program and disbursement costs incurred by the government have been reduced by 50 percent.
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