Improving service delivery to citizens and digitising cities to succeed in the future

Sheldon Quarmby is Founder and CEO of Interfile, the company behind solutions like uFiling and SARS eFiling. We chat about how individual tax returns on SARS eFiling was born, Sheldon’s worst nightmares of Covid-19, benefits and challenges of uFiling, digitising our cities to succeed in the future, rapid urbanisation and the future of jobs.

Key Takeaways

What is Interfile?

  • Fintech company and services organisations using technology to provide services.
  • Sheldon shares the story of how individual tax returns on SARS eFiling was born in 2007.
  • Everything we do must make a difference by utilising technology for business and services

Sheldon’s worst nightmares

  • Current temporary unemployment leading to massive jump in permanent unemployment which in turn can lead to increase in crime
  • New regulations will probably take years to relax.
  • Impacts on privacy.

Benefits and key challenges with uFiling

  • In the early days it took 6-8 weeks to process a claim. Today the system is coping with approx. 3500 concurrent users, meaning you don’t need 3500 clerks at the same time to deal with these applications as the system manages it.
  • If the Department of Labor did not have uFiling in place we’d be in serious trouble in South Africa
  • Upscaling uFiling and adding additional people and resources to cope with this overnight jump in users that came without any warning.
  • Department of Labor should be applauded for what they have done.

How Interfile is managing remote work

  • People crave social interaction.
  • Give all staff the tools they need to work from home effectively.
  • Permanent work from home for certain employees: The Pretoria office lease will not be renewed.
  • People are actually very affective from home.

Digitising our cities to succeed in the future

  • Cities are there to provide services to citizens. If we don’t pay they cannot provide these services.
  • Many cases of people earning money that are currently not paying the city for the services they use.
  • Cities are experiencing a reduction in revenue collection because people don’t like to pay estimated bills for meter readings. Solution: Enable individuals to submit readings online.
  • City of Tshwane use electronic services for online meter readings, clearance certificates and more.
  • Need to make it a simple service to pay your bill: Click and Play.
  • Pay via Whatsapp instead of downloading an App.
  • Smarter Cities are critically important.

Rapid urbanisation and the future of jobs

  • We will see people moving out of the cities as people get used to work from home and the benefits it provide.
  • Lower costs for cities as people move out. Less cost in cities e.g. if less cars use the road there will be less maintenance.
  • Competition for jobs now that everyone can work from home.
  • Government currently support individuals with temporary unemployment but government cannot pay salaries forever.
  • Government will be involvement in reskilling and retraining to work digitally.
  • Start building and manufacturing locally. Remove red tape.
  • Digitation is the new norm

Positive vibes

  • Understand what the crisis presents.
  • How can we change and improve?
  • How do we reinvent ourselves in this new world?
  • Business should play its part.

About Sheldon and Interfile
Sheldon is the founder of Interfile. With 30 years of experience in Fintech entrepreneurship, he is passionate about the role technology plays in streamlining processes and improving people's lives. He remains client-facing and hands-on in all aspects of the business.

Interfile is a boutique Fintech company with more than 15 years experience in building and operating advanced financially orientated information technology systems. The company is acknowledged as a leading provider of Electronic Bill Presentment and Payment (EBPP) solutions, having developed and operated SARS e-Filing for the South African Revenue Service (SARS) as far back as 2003. Today SARS is acknowledged as one of the most service-orientated and efficient revenue collection agencies in the world.

Interfile has implemented customer-centric and business process solutions for a variety of national government departments, numerous municipalities and large organisations. In South Africa almost every citizen will benefit from one or more of Interfile’s solutions, whether paying tax, obtaining an ID card or passport, claiming unemployment, or simply logging a query with a local municipality.

Real world experience and expertise is what adds real value to customers and consumers. System integrations, business processes, and real time service delivery makes the company a lot more than a simple payment service provider. Coupled with areas such as change management and customer acceptance makes Interfile one of the only SA companies able to provide the full spectrum of Opti-Channel EBPP services. Quite simply, Interfile provides the most sophisticated digital citizen services platforms available.

Today, Interfile and its products are built on a core of trust, experience and expertise, making it a valuable partner to its clients. Operating in high-volume citizen facing environments, Interfile has gained experience through delivery to market in often high pressure scenarios which require great care and forethought.

As a matter of interest:

  • Interfile is the only South African company recognised for its eGovernment solutions by leading global IT researcher Gartner.
  • Interfile received an award from the Centre for Public Service Innovation for its creation of SARS e-Filing.
  • As at December 2017, Interfile platforms processed hundreds of millions of transactions totalling more than one trillion Rands.
  • Interfile is the only private company with an integrated payment gateway to all four major South African commercial banks and the National Treasury.
  • Interfile was a finalist in both the American and the EMEA MAX Awards for the "The Best Overall Enterprise Application".


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