The Social Security System (SSS) plans to shift towards the electronic disbursement of salary loans and short-term benefits from its current system of releasing them through checks. The move aims to provide more convenience and ensure the timely delivery of funds to members and employers.

SSS President and Chief Executive Officer Emilio de Quiros, Jr. said the agency has started this year its mandatory reimbursement of employees’ sickness and maternity claims thru bank accounts of employers all over the country as initial step.

“Our ultimate goal is to institutionalize check-less transactions to eliminate problems that may occur with sending checks through mail. It will offer greater convenience for members and employers since they no longer have to go to a bank to encash or deposit their checks, nor wait for the required check-clearing period,” he said.

The electronic release of loans and benefits will also address problems such as delay in delivery of checks, as well as stolen, misdelivered or return-to-sender checks. Lost checks take up to as much as six months to replace.

“Disbursing benefit and loan proceeds electronically will help especially members based in the provinces, since issuance of checks is centralized at the SSS main office in Quezon City and thus, takes more time to be delivered to them,” de Quiros said.

The state-run institution recently tied up with Citibank for the electronic release of salary loan proceeds and short-term benefits through a special cash card for members. SSS and Citibank signed a memorandum of agreement at the SSS corporate headquarters on June 5.

De Quiros said SSS expects to start issuing the new Citi Prepaid Card for SSS Salary Loans and Benefits to members within the second half of 2012.

“There will be no additional cost for the use of the card, which is valid for three years and accepted in automated teller machines and debit transactions. Cards of OFW-members will be issued only in the Philippines but they can use them to transact anywhere in the world,” he said.

The Citi Prepaid Card can be used in over 15,000 ATMs under the combined networks of Bancet, Megalink, Maestro, Cirrus, Mastercard, Visa and Plus. More than half a million point-of-sale terminals in the Philippines will also accept transactions using the card.

“For transactions outside the Philippines, our members based overseas will benefit from Citi’s worldwide service since the prepaid card is recognized by over 30 million merchants and more than 1.5 million ATMs all over the world,” de Quiros said.