DCASA W Cape Meeting Round Up
The Debt Counsellors Association of South Africa (DCASA) met in July in Parow, Cape Town. Members from across the Western Cape attended, along with representatives from credit providers and Payment Distribution Agents. Despite the cold weather, there was a warm and friendly atmosphere as Debt Counsellors gathered for the local DCASA regional meeting.
Local DCASA Chairman, Rheinhart Pettenberger opened the meeting with greetings and a brief discussion of the agenda. Some hot topics were discussed like the recent victory of a local Debt Counsellor at the NCT and how the big banks have reneged on an agreement to deal with end balance differences made by CIF.
The good news of FNB agreeing to adjust the way they have been handing the current account and over draft spilt was well received by the audience and referenced several times throughout the day. It was revealed that the local Chairman had been approached by a local investigative TV show over the matter prior to FNB adjusting their policy and how the new policy would also apply to older accounts were many thousands of Rands of “fees” and “charges” are sitting and accruing. This is a big positive move by FNB and will address the issue, which has been brewing for some time in the industry.
He then handed over to Credit Provider, Tenacity.
Tenacity represents the Pepkor group (Ackermans, ShoeCity, Dunns etc) with regard to debt counselling. Cindy (Head of the Debt Review Department) made a presentation and shared some insights into how Tenacity view debt review. She also discussed their new computer system Einstein and how it has greatly helped improve service delivery within the department. She also noted that, as a new system, it is not free of glitches and how they appreciate any feedback from Debt Counsellor if they see or experience anything weird. Tenacity extended an invitation to their offices to all in attendance. They would like local Debt C0unsellors to make a plan to come and visit their head office and take a tour (and discuss any matters such as end balance differences).
She noted that Tenacity always work based off the provided cascade from the Debt Counsellor (or PDA) and this sparked an interesting discussion about the challenges facing cascades due to end balance differences.
Sponsoring the day, DC Partner, Payment Distribution Agency were on hand, not only to hand out a few nice goodies (some pens and mouse pads) but also discuss the way forward for Payment Distribution Agencies. Recently the PDAs income was reduced by 66% or more and at present the PDAs receive and averaged 0.8% from each consumer they assist. 2 of the PDAs have been before the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry to discuss possible amendments to the NCA in regard to how long they have to distribute funds (to reduce disputes on debit orders) and the fee structure. It was revealed that the NCR would like to include refunding of refused/disputed debit orders back to the various PDAs into the Terms & Conditions of the various Credit Providers. No indication was given as to how far progressed such a move has gone and if any of the Credit Providers was resisting such a move. Well known, local representative Joe spoke about how Finwise (the front end software), i Docs (a helpful suite of tools for Debt Counsellors) and DC Partner (the payment side of things) all integrate together to save Debt Counsellors time and money.
Before (and after lunch) there was a discussion of industry developments and a report from the NEC meeting of DCASA by NEC representative Eugene Cillier.
Several interesting industry challenges were discussed including many complaints from Debt Counsellors that they were waiting on their Certificates (renewed) from the National Credit Regulator. Debt Counsellors country wide need these certificates by Monday next week in order to proceed with legal matters. One Debt Counsellor reported being told, by an NCR representative, that the new certificates were being printed on Thursday this week. This is concerning since it then only leaves the work day of Friday for the NCR to distribute hundreds of certificates to Debt Counsellors across the country. The NCR and DCASA recently met in regard to this matter and the NCR assured DCASA that the Certificates will be provided on time. Also discussed were debt mediation scams and false advertising and how this was hurting vulnerable consumers in rural areas.
The meeting ended with the chance to network and exchance contact information with credit providers and the PDA.