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Effective Date for Directive on Domestic Card Transactions Extended

September 14, 2020

South African Reserve Bank

The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has extended the effective date for the Directive for Conduct Within the National Payment System in Respect of Domestic Card Transactions.

The Directive was published in Government Gazette 43033 on 21 February 2020.

It was meant to come into effect six months after the date of publication.

The Directive instructed that no foreign card issuer may issue a domestic card used for domestic card transactions in South Africa unless it is a domestic clearing system participant.

According to the Directive, the SARB is empowered by section 12(1) of the National Payment System Act to regulate the national payment system in South Africa.

The Directive seeks to address the situation where cards are issued by foreign entities not registered or incorporated in South Africa.

“Therefore, although the transactions occur in South Africa between domestic parties, such transactions are processed as if they were international or cross-border transactions by the foreign issuing and/or acquiring entities.”

The Directive is designed to level the playing field for all card issuers, card acquirers and merchants relating to domestic card transactions and prevent the introduction of risk into the National Payment System.

The Directive also instructs that “no foreign acquirer may acquire domestic card transactions or provide domestic merchants’ acquiring services”.

Published in Gazette 43703, section 6.3 of the Directive is amended by the substitution of the word “six” with the word “twelve”.

The Directive will now come into effect 12 months after the original date of publication.

In Gazette 43702, national treasury published allocations to provinces in terms of the Provincial Disaster Relief Grant and the Municipal Disaster Relief Grant as contained in the 2020 Division of Revenue Amendment Act.

Meanwhile, the Auditor-General (AG) recently briefed parliament on the first special report on the financial management of government’s COVID-19 initiatives.

Observations included that the rapid implementation of the initiatives in already compromised control environments created significant risks that most auditees were not able to address; information technology systems used by government were not agile enough to respond to the changes required and pre-existing deficiencies in the supply chain processes of government were amplified by the introduction of the emergency procurement processes.

The AG indicated that the report should be used to direct oversight actions on how the multibillion Rands allocated for the COVID-19 response were used.

Steps must be taken to monitor whether control weaknesses that open the funds to abuse are being closed and whether instances where abuse has occurred were dealt with appropriately.

The AG also advised that accounting officers and authorities should invest in preventative controls.

“It pays off when an institution is called on to deal with a crisis and is better than dealing with lengthy and costly investigation and a loss of resources and public confidence.”

The AG declared that transparency and accountability for government spending must always prevail even in the midst of a crisis.