In 1994, Barry Berman started a company in Cape Town which issued personalised number plates for motorists nationwide via its highly popular website, The company’s services expanded to include licence renewals, registrations, number transfers and number plate manufacturing.

At that time, municipalities were struggling to get people to pay their fines, so they blocked motorists from being able to renew their licences until they paid their fines. As the issuing and manufacture of number plates is linked to licence registration, Berman realised that motorists’ outstanding fines were directly impacting his business. He decided to investigate the challenges that the municipalities were experiencing in recouping money from fines, and this led him to develop the Fines SA platform.

Fines SA’s evolution is a good example of how SMMEs evolve, starting out as one thing and evolving their service offering. An SMME often experiences multiple challenges during this process. For Fines SA, the challenges lay mainly in the fragmented traffic fine administration, with its 250 municipalities and two different fine systems. This made the process for motorists highly confusing when they wanted to check their fine status. Berman says, “To overcome this problem, we embraced technology so that we could have up-to-date data and systems to assist us in helping our clients in real-time.”

Fines SA benefits motorists, businesses that employ drivers for their fleets, as well as municipalities that try to recoup money from fines. When registering on the Fines SA website, motorists are able to see what fines have been issued to them across all regions of South Africa. Motorists who only check the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) site will see fines issued in Joburg and Tshwane only, so if they travel and incur fines in other municipalities, they may not even know about it.

A major problem in South Africa is that motorists most often don’t even receive their infringement notices in the post. “That’s why our system is so effective,” says Berman. “Everything is electronic and linked across every region. We send statements every month, so motorists and businesses always know what fines they have. When AARTO is implemented, we will also add demerit points onto the statements.

“Fines SA offers motorists the most comprehensive system through which they can check their fines nationwide instead of relying on the post office to deliver them, and we offer up to 20% discount on fines when they join the platform,” he adds.