How many smart IDs and passports South Africa’s banks have issued

Over 1.4 million Smart ID cards and passport renewals have been carried out at eHomeAffairs-enabled bank branches in South Africa since the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) rolled out the service in 2016.

That is according to data shared from FNB, whose seven supported branches accounted for the highest number of documents issued.

By the end of March 2024, the bank’s eHomeAffairs-enabled branches had issued 220,664 Smart ID cards and renewed 273,039 passports for a total tally of 493,703.

The bank said its branches currently complete around 7,000 ID and passport applications in a month.

The nine eHomeAffairs-supported branches of South Africa’s biggest bank — Standard Bank — accounted for the second-highest number, with a total of 418,397 documents issued or renewed.

Absa and Nedbank, which have six supported branches each, have helped to facilitate the issuing of 231,797 and 225,580 documents, respectively.

Investec and Discovery Bank, each with one eHomeAffairs branch, account for a further 27,041 and 19,354 documents, respectively.

Overall, renewed passports accounted for most of the documents issued, with 750,158 renewals versus 665,694 Smart ID card applications.

The table below summarises the number of Smart ID cards issued and passports renewed at all DHA-enabled bank branches.

Smart ID cards issued and passports renewed at DHA-supported bank branches
Bank (supported branches) Smart ID cards Passport renewals Total
FNB (7) 220,664 273,039 493,703
Standard Bank (9) 206,187 212,210 418,397
Absa (6) 111,525 120,272 231,797
Nedbank (6) 110,720 114,840 225,580
Investec (1) 9,433 17,608 27,041
Discovery Bank (1) 7,165 12,189 19,354
All bank branches (30) 665,694 750,158 1,415,872

Two MyBroadband employees recently tested the service via FNB branches in Lynnwood and Centurion and were impressed with the overall experience.

The process is faster than at a regular Home Affairs office for three reasons.

Firstly, payments are made upfront via the eHomeAffairs online portal, and branch visits are only required to capture biometrics and collect the documents.

In addition, regular Home Affairs offices offer a wider range of services that can add to queuing times.

Lastly, bank branches tend to have reliable and fast Internet access, critical to connecting to the DHA’s systems for completing the application process.

Further branch rollouts held up by PPP negotiations

While the number of people that have used the facility is substantial, it is important to note that it has still not exited the pilot phase — which started eight years ago.

The expiry of the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the banks and the DHA has been extended multiple times to continue offering the service.

FNB and Nedbank told MyBroadband that the latest expiry date is the end of September 2024.

The Banking Association of South Africa and participating banks have been negotiating the contractual agreements that will form part of a final public-private partnership (PPP) for several years.

“Upon the adoption of the agreement, banks will have a transitional period that will inform the next steps with regards to expansion,” Nedbank explained.

Only when this is done will the banks be able to expand the service to further branches and reach more customers. The number of supported branches has stagnated around 27 to 30 for a long time.

Absa told MyBroadband it wanted to extend its current cohort of six branches to 17 sites.

It is unclear whether the final PPP will include any fundamental changes to the way the service currently operates — including which parties are responsible for different parts of the service.

Under the existing MOU, Home Affairs employees handle biometric verifications, photo capturing, and document collections.

FNB explained that bank employees are responsible for various services related to the offering, including managing telephone calls for DHA queries, ensuring ordered queueing for appointments and collections, and assisting walk-in customers in performing bookings and payments at digital kiosks.

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How many smart IDs and passports South Africa’s banks have issued