Around 9,000 more people who receive benefits from the Social Security Department will now be getting them paid directly into their bank accounts, following a campaign run by the Central Bank of Malta and the Department.
The Government issues cheques drawn on the Bank for those beneficiaries who do not have direct credit arrangements, with over three-quarters of a million cheques issued every year. The benefits range from pensions to children’s allowances.
However, earlier this year, when the health authorities encouraged people to stay indoors due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Bank issued a Directive to make it easier for these cheques to be deposited without having to go to a bank branch or financial service provider in person.
The Directive allowed the ‘payee only’ cheques to be deposited by trusted third parties – but the explanatory videos issued by the Bank also promoted the concept of switching to direct credits.
Around 9,000 out of the 33,000 who received cheques in March and April 2020 took up this suggestion. This means that almost 90% of beneficiaries are now receiving their payments directly into their bank account, up from 82 per cent before COVID-19.
“We are already receiving reports from stakeholders that the use of cash in retail transactions has declined – with more use of electronic means of payment and a sharp uptake of the use of direct debits and credits,” Chief Officer for Banking Operations at the Central Bank of Malta, Jesmond Gatt, said.
The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry for the Family, Children’s Rights and Social Solidarity, Mark Musu’, welcomed the new trend, as direct credits were a more efficient and safe way of receiving payments.
“We were pleased with the results so far but intend to continue to encourage people to switch as it is so much more convenient for them. My target is to reach 95% by end of this year,” he said.
To sign up for direct credit, go to the Social Security Department website at socialsecurity.gov.mt and click on “MyServices”. Alternatively, contact the Department by phone on 25903000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.