By Our Reporter
The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) in partnership with Visa and Centenary Bank has unveiled a three-in-one social security smart card which embeds NSSF functionality, bank functionality and a loyalty program, the first of its kind in East Africa.
The card forms a critical component of the Fund’s digitalization strategy which is geared at leveraging new technology to improve efficiencies, customer experience and ultimately make savings a way of life for Ugandans. It will support the Fund’s transition from a laminated membership card to a functional Chip and PIN plastic option.
Using the card, the Fund’s members will be able to directly withdraw their NSSF savings upon qualification, deposit and withdraw money from their bank accounts, pay bills, make transactions online, at ATM’s and Point of Sale terminals. In addition, they will access exclusive deals from selected merchants.
Addressing media at the launch, Richard Byarugaba, the Fund’s Managing Director said the innovation will go a long way in driving financial inclusion and promote service delivery to its over 2 million members.
“For a long time, we have wanted to replace the laminated membership cards with more functional cards that can allow members access more than viewership of their account balance. I am glad that this dream has finally come to fruition. I believe that this will greatly improve our customers’ experience,” he said.
Byarugaba added, “The smart card complements our digital claims process, providing easy and faster validation for qualifying members to withdraw their savings in a timely manner. This shows that we are on the right track to realizing improved turnaround time for benefits processing to one day, by 2025.”
The Smart card comes in two forms namely, the Debit smart card and the Prepaid smart card. The debit card comes with an NSSF Smart Life bank account that can be opened at Centenary Bank whereas the Prepaid smart card can be loaded with funds and this card is available to both customers and non- customers of the Bank. Both cards can be used to make purchases at any Visa enabled points worldwide. Members have an option of choosing their card of preference.
Under the partnership, Centenary Bank will provide NSSF members with direct banking services while Visa will facilitate the financial transactions at any of their locations worldwide.
Joseph Balikuddembe, the Executive Director Centenary Bank said, “As a bank on its journey to becoming a SMART Bank by 2026, we are honored to be part of this game changing innovation in the pension industry. We do believe it will enhance customer convenience and NSSF members will enjoy
banking services across our 81 branches, point of sale machines, 192 ATMs and 5,200 agents. The debit and pre-paid cards come with a SMART life account that targets existing and new NSSF members with free card and free charge account coupled with great card discounts from our partner merchants.”
Thembeka Ngugi, Visa Senior Director for Sub Saharan Africa reiterated Visa’s commitment to delivering safe, secure and reliable payment solutions that meet the needs of customers.
She said, “We are delighted to welcome NSSF members to the Visa network where they can enjoy secure and convenient financial services. Embracing digital payments and a potentially cashless society is where the future lies. Visa is investing more than ever in our global assets, infrastructure, and digital capabilities to reshape the future of commerce. Digital payments, such as those enabled by Visa, are a first step to financial inclusion, which is why we are investing new ways to reach everyone by offering benefits that will transform their payments experience.”
Bank of Uganda Acting Governor, Michael Atingi-Ego, who was chief guest at the launch, applauded the NSSF, Centenary Bank and Visa for the innovation saying it was in line with the Central Bank’s financial inclusion agenda which promotes access and usage of financial services. He also assured members of safety of their funds while transacting with the banks.
Requirements for acquiring the NSSF Smart card include the NSSF number and the National ID.