Great plan to get passports and smart IDs at bank branches 

Thirty bank branches offer passport and Smart ID renewals through the eHomeAffairs system, with big banks saying this is part of their efforts to become full-service institutions.

South Africa’s biggest banks make the most of their existing infrastructure to offer greater convenience to clients. 

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) introduced the eHomeAffairs system in 2016. Since then, FNB, Standard Bank, Absa, Investec, Nedbank, and Discovery Bank have operated successful pilot sites. 

This facility enables people to apply for a Smart ID card or new passport online and pay for it before going into a bank branch to do their biometric verification. 

However, the system appears to be in a perpetually renewing pilot phase, with rollouts being painstakingly slow. 

Banks seem to benefit little from offering this service to their clients, as they do not receive any financial remuneration for hosting the Home Affairs offices within their branches. 

Daily Investor contacted the big banks, asking why they offer these services and what benefit they receive from allowing Home Affairs services to be conducted at their branches. 

FNB’s head of public relations, Sizwekazi Mdingi, explained that while offering these services does not directly benefit the bank, it does benefit by fostering loyalty to the brand. 

Having DHA-enabled branches offers FNB’s customers more convenience in an environment they are familiar with and where they can also perform other banking needs. 

“Our branches are there to serve communities, where possible, and it is vital for us to use our infrastructure to make services beyond banking easily accessible,” she said. 

This also enables the bank to use its branch space more efficiently. With more transactions taking place online, there is less need for traditional, large branches. 

By placing a DHA office within the branches, the bank is able to cut down its branch space while offering additional services to clients. 

Mdingi said the bank wants to continue working with the DHA to expand the service to more branches and improve access to essential services. 

Kabelo Makeke, head of personal and private banking at Standard Bank South Africa, said the bank’s collaboration with the DHA helps it become a full-service institution. 

South Africa’s big banks have long competed in traditional banking channels such as credit, loans, deposits, and investment. 

They are now expanding into other financial services, such as insurance and asset management, as well as non-financial services, including telecoms.  

“As a full-service financial services institution, we strive to provide access to all financial services and options beyond. We see the relationship with the DHA as a strategic partnership that provides accessible,  convenient and cost-effective services to our customers,” Makeke said. 

This is all part of the competition to become the ‘front of the wallet’ for consumers. With South Africans increasingly having multiple bank accounts, there is increased competition.

By offering more services, banks can diversify their revenue streams, which have traditionally captured value from transactions, savings, and loans. 

While having DHA-enabled branches does not directly benefit Standard Bank financially, it does keep the bank in front of clients’ minds and enhances loyalty to the brand. 

Both FNB and Standard Bank said they are in discussions with the DHA about expanding the service to more branches in the near future. 

Both banks have signed the extension of the Memorandum of Understanding until the end of September 2024 and are hoping a permanent solution can be found before then. 

This covers the pilot sites currently operated by DHA Staff. Discussions on signing the Partnership Agreement are still in progress. 

“Once the agreement is signed, we will focus on the conversion of the pilot sites and thereafter review our position on expanding this service,” Makeke said. 

The Banking Association of South Africa is also working hard on the next phase of the project. Once finalised, banks will be able to announce the expansion of the service to other selected branches across the country.

Currently, there are DHA-enabled bank branches in all provinces except the Free State and the North West. 

Data from FNB shows that, while the rollout has been slow, the service is incredibly popular among South Africans. Over 1.4 million Smart ID cards and passport renewals are carried out at eHomeAffairs-enabled bank branches. 

By the end of March 2024, the bank’s seven 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, issued or renewed 418,397 documents, the second-highest number.

All the country’s biggest banks, except Capitec and TymeBank, have DHA-enabled branches in Gauteng.

Absa, FNB, Nedbank, and Standard Bank also have branches in the Western Cape.

Absa is the only one in the Big Four that does not have any supported branches in KwaZulu-Natal.

However, it does offer a branch in the Eastern Cape, alongside Standard Bank, while FNB and Nedbank do not.

Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and Northern Cape residents have just one branch each — all with different banks.

Free State residents have no choice but to go to a regular Home Affairs office or travel to another province to use a DHA-enabled bank branch.

The table below shows all the DHA-enabled bank branches in South Africa. 

ProvinceBank branch
GautengAbsa Centurion Lifestyle Centre
Absa Key West Krugersdorp
Absa Sandton City
Discovery Bank Head Office
FNB Centurion Lifestyle Centre
FNB Glen Shopping Centre
FNB Lynnwood
FNB Merchant Place
Investec Bank Sandown
Nedbank Arcadia
Nedbank Constantia Kloof
Nedbank Rivonia
Standard Bank Centurion Lifestyle Centre
Standard Bank Jubilee Mall
Standard Bank Killarney Mall
Standard Bank Simmonds Street
Western CapeAbsa Stellenbosch
Absa Towers
FNB Greenpoint
Nedbank St George’s Mall
Standard Bank Canal Walk
Standard Bank Mitchell’s Plain Promenade
KwaZulu NatalFNB Cornubia
Nedbank Durban North
Standard Bank Kingsmead
Eastern CapeAbsa Port Elizabeth
Standard Bank Newton Park
MpumalangaNedbank Nelspruit
LimpopoFNB Burgersfort
Northern CapeStandard Bank Kathu Mall