What Is NSFAS MasterCard?

By Klenam JU •  Updated: 10/03/24 •  5 min read

A new form of disbursing funds through MasterCard to students that seeks to completely overhaul the current NSFAS allowance remittance systems in order to strengthen the bursary scheme against fraud, to which its previous payment system was vulnerable.

This is why the article shall explore everything there is to know about NSFAS’s new payment system to make your transition to the new MasterCard more convenient.

What is NSFAS MasterCard?

The NSFAS MasterCard is a new direct payments system for allowances that was implemented by the bursary scheme to streamline payments and address the numerous security issues that plagued its previous incarnations.

MasterCard, in itself, is a proprietary technology from the second largest payments network in the world.

MasterCard makes use of its global payments network to facilitate payment transactions, which usually involve the MasterCard account holder and a merchant, along with their respective financial institutions.

It can also make payments via credit, debit, or prepaid cards.

Through a partnership with four distributing partners, all NSFAS-funded students will be given a MasterCard and a bank account where monthly allowances will be disbursed in periodic increments.

The NSFAS MasterCard will function in much the same way a conventional MasterCard does, with beneficiaries able to withdraw cash at selected ATMs throughout the country or use their cards at any participating stores to purchase goods directly.

Who can use NSFAS MasterCard?

NSFAS has a range of challenges that need addressing for the bursary scheme to be a viable solution to South Africa’s unique socioeconomic needs.

Chief amongst them are those to be found in its payment remittance system, which is susceptible to fraud, and cyber security issues and is ill-equipped to meet the growing demand and student base of prospective beneficiaries.

It is for these reasons that NSFAS introduced its version of a MasterCard. The MasterCard, which works like your standard bank card, is only available to beneficiaries of the bursary scheme.

It is intended to streamline monthly allowance payments and address the online security issues that often plague the conventional NSFAS wallet online.

All beneficiaries of NSFAS shall receive a MasterCard and have free reign to make use of it as specified.

Any use of the card by individuals not registered as beneficiaries of the bursary scheme amount to acts of fraud, which are punishable by law.

How does the NSFAS MasterCard work?

The NSFAS MasterCard serves as the latest in a long line of technological innovations made to the bursary scheme’s systems in an effort to overhaul its current technical challenges.

As the proprietary technology behind the NSFAS MasterCard is fairly new, its adoption by NSFAS’s 900 000 bursary recipients will be implemented in phases, with a full rollout of the MasterCard occurring over the course of a couple of months.

The NSFAS MasterCard will allow students to receive their allowances on a monthly basis as usual.

What will differ is that instead of an online NSFAS wallet, beneficiaries will be allocated NSFAS MasterCard, which will serve a similar purpose to a normal bank card, as well as a bank account to withdraw funds from.

Students under the auspices of the NSFAS MasterCard will be notified of any transactions and fund disbursements via SMS, email, or other platforms at different points of their transaction journey.

Granting them greater visibility and security as far as their bursary payments are concerned.

Do I need a bank account to use NSFAS MasterCard?

According to statements made by NSFAS officials on the specifics of the MasterCard and its rollout, all beneficiaries will be changed to the new payment system over time.

All students will receive NSFAS MasterCard alongside a bank account from which funds will be dispersed.

This means that it is not necessary to be in possession of a bank account to withdraw and access NSFAS’s monthly allowance with a MasterCard, as NSFAS itself will be issuing a bank account to all students studying under its scheme.

This will give students the freedom of banking at any of South Africa’s national banks free of charge and the option to shop online thanks to MasterCard’s inbuilt technology.

How do I get my NSFAS MasterCard?

All students currently pursuing an academic career with the financial aid of NSFAS bursary can sign up for the MasterCard by downloading the app.

Once the app has been downloaded, students are advised to follow the given instructions to set it up and await the delivery of the card to their given university or TVET college campus.

Once the card has made its way to its intended recipient, it can be activated by sending an SMS to 31571.

This will prompt you to type “Activate” on your phone, followed by a space and the last four digits of the card.

You will then receive your card’s PIN code via SMS, with the card becoming active upon you receiving your first NSFAS payment on the MasterCard.

NSFAS MasterCard partners

To ensure that the newly implemented NSFAS MasterCard runs without a hitch, NSFAS is working with four distributing partners who offer the service with their technical expertise.

These include co-invest money, which is a leading technology company that offers a full-scope mobile money management platform.

Zaga is a company that provides financial service offerings to the informal market.

Norraco, offers a number of tailor-made and specialized financial service products to clients, including the blockchain.

And Tenet Technology, a company whose core aim is to improve the service delivery and customer experience of companies using modern data systems.

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