Introduction and background
The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) operates the real-time gross settlement (RTGS) system that is used to enable the exchange of value (payments) by members of the public, merchants, and corporate and government entities through accounts held by their banks at the SARB. The domestic payment settlement system has been in operation since 1998, while the regional payment settlement system was implemented by the SARB as a delegated operator, in collaboration with Southern African Development Community (SADC) central banks in 2013. The regional payment settlement system facilitates cross-border payments within the SADC region.
Flow of payments and settlement (Source: Payments Association of South Africa)
Launch of the RTGS Renewal Programme
On 23 June 2021, the SARB launched a renewal programme that will enhance payment services provision for both the domestic and regional financial system. The main benefits that are hoped to be realised include support for enhanced access to payments services through the enablement of wider access by payment services providers, leveraging off technology to improve the adaptability and efficiency of the system (higher speed and lower cost of transactions), and enhanced security of the system to address cyber threats.
With this renewal programme, the SARB aims to achieve the goals of wider access to payment services, enhanced competition through leveraging off technology developments, and cost effectiveness of the system that should translate into lower transaction fees and make the system flexible and adaptable to relevant changes in the financial system.
Industry stakeholders can look forward to the rollout of workshops planned for the remainder of the year. A programme structure will be included in the next communication to provide a view on how the programme will be executed.
Plans are underway to on-board a Business Design Authority stream intended to serve as an interface between the SARB and the industry on matters relating to requirements at both a strategic and operational level. This is to ensure that the user experience is significantly improved, and channels for collaboration and interaction are open. The structure, under the leadership of Rhona Badenhorst, will be commencing soon.
A Policy and Regulation stream will also be implemented to coordinate and harmonise input from various regulators and to ensure that all regulatory requirements are met.