Why your bank branch doesn’t do Smart IDs

South African banks are eager to expand the availability of E-Home Affairs in South Africa — they are just waiting for the Department of Home Affairs to sign a partnership agreement before they can roll out the service to more branches.

This is according to Nedbank, which was answering questions from MyBroadband regarding the delays it faced in rolling out new E-Home Affairs branches during 2020.

At the start of 2020 — before South Africa recorded its first case of COVID-19 — Absa, FNB, Nedbank, and Standard Bank revealed their plans to expand their E-Home Affairs footprint substantially by the end of the year.

However, only Standard Bank was able to add E-Home Affairs capabilities to some of its branches during the year.

Nedbank told MyBroadband that its roll-out plans were affected by COVID-19, the National State of Disaster and the ensuing lockdowns, but said that the pandemic was only part of the reason for the delays.

“The delays are largely as a result of the finalisation of the partnership agreement with the Department of Home Affairs, and we have not been able to open any more [E-Home Affairs] offices in the last year aside from those already in place,” a spokesperson for Nedbank stated.

Nedbank said it intends to expand its E-Home Affairs offering, but it is waiting on the Department.

“There is big dependency on the Department of Home Affairs finalising a partnership agreement with participating banks that will see banks offering this service as part of their own operating models — using their own staff,” Nedbank said.

“Currently, the [Home Affairs] appointed staff manage and operate dedicated areas within participating banks where they process appointments that are booked via the DHA website.”

A glaring gap in the E-Home Affairs network is the fact that one of South Africa’s largest banks, Capitec, does not offer the service.

The E-Home Affairs system only allows you to book appointments and collect your documents from a bank where you are a client.

If your bank does not participate in the programme, or if your bank does not have an E-Home Affairs branch near you, then you will have to book your biometric data capture appointment at the best available Home Affairs office.

MyBroadband asked South Africa’s big five banks and the Department of Home Affairs why the system was designed this way.

“This decision was informed by the Department of Home Affairs,” Nedbank told MyBroadband.

“This is how the appointment booking process is set up on the [E-Home Affairs] website. It’s the same process for all banks and ensures that it does not create a competitive advantage for any one bank.”

Standard Bank told MyBroadband that this was an agreement between all banks at the time when the e-Channel proof-of-concept — which ultimately became E-Home Affairs — launched in 2015.

FNB didn’t answer the question directly, but said that the E-Home Affairs system has become an essential service that has issued over 251,000 passports and smart IDs through its branches.

“We believe that the consistent expansion of this essential service will provide more customers with convenience by avoiding long queues when applying for their smart IDs and passports,” said the CEO of FNB Points of Presence, Lee-Anne van Zyl.

Absa declined to comment and referred questions to Home Affairs, while Home Affairs and Capitec did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.

However, Capitec previously told MyBroadband that it has no plans to add Home Affairs service desks, as it has smaller optimised premises to help keep its fees as low as possible.

Now read: Now read: How I got my new South African passport in a week

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Why your bank branch doesn’t do Smart IDs