Digital Frontiers

Humanitarian and Digital Social Payments

ARTICLES

Rapid Response for Social Payments During COVID-19

As countries around the world grapple with the devastating economic impact of the COVID19 pandemic, governments have turned to supplemental cash transfers as a key policy instrument to offset the loss of income. These measures include a range of approaches, from wage subsidies to extended unemployment support and a variety of social welfare payments. There’s…

Optimizing Awareness, Communication, and Outreach for Government Payments in Times of Crisis

This paper outlines the essential components of communication and outreach programs for both the supply and demand side. It quotes examples from PMKGY, the relief package launched by the Government of India amid the COVID-19 outbreak, to highlight the challenges around communication that recipients and frontline workers faced.

Addressing the Weak Link in COVID-19 Relief: How Improving Strategic Communications can Boost the Impact of Social Protection Programs

Nations worldwide have responded to COVID-19 through 1,100 social protection programs to help 1.8 billion-plus people. Yet recipients are largely in the dark about the programs and do not know how to access funds. This blog examines the importance of better communication around social protection programs, particularly for the vulnerable population.

Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation Podcast Series

Tune in to hear the Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation (M4H) team discuss key issues with their mobile network operator and humanitarian partners in this podcast series.

Financial Literacy Training Toolkit for Refugees

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and PHB have developed a financial literacy training toolkit customized to meet the needs and realities of refugees and refugee hosting communities in Uganda.

Preserving Liquidity: Policymaker Responses to COVID-19 and the Impact on Low-Income Customers

This paper examines how COVID-era economic policy measures – specifically those addressing liquidity – are directly affecting low-income segments and the financial institutions that serve them. In particular, the paper reviews the liquidity needs of financial institutions serving low-income customers in light of COVID-19, provides examples of policy measures being taken around the world to…

Delivering on the Potential of Digitized G2P: Driving Women’s Financial Inclusion and Empowerment Through Indonesia’s Program Keluarga Harapan

Financial institutions and governments have been working for years to leverage digitized G2P for women’s financial inclusion and economic empowerment. COVID-19 has increased the stakes, as governments look to use G2P programs to strengthen women’s resilience. New research from Women’s World Banking offers insights on Indonesia’s PKH program, the country’s largest conditional cash transfer.

The Journeys Project

This site features the long-distance journeys of dispossessed people — refugees, migrants and asylum seekers who have traveled far to escape persecution and grinding poverty. We examine their stories though a financial lens to better understand the costs and strategies involved in their journeys as well as the economic approaches they use when putting down roots…

Review and Analysis of Identification and Registration Systems in Protracted and Recurrent Crisis

Data systems to register and identify recipients of transfers underpin everything in a targeted distribution system in terms of who is eligible, who is not, why, for what and for how long. Data collection for these systems is often the first contact point between crisis-affected populations and responders. This research on this topic explores the…

G2P: Fiji’s Electronic Welfare Transfer System

Digitizing social welfare payments can be a win-win for all stakeholders involved when done right; the recipients of welfare receive their payments in a more convenient and cost-effective way, the government can streamline services to make them more efficient and reduce illegitimate payment, and the service provider gains more customers. It was this thinking that…

Partnering During Crisis

he ubiquity and scale of mobile networks has made mobile an attractive delivery channel for many types of humanitarian assistance, and recent evidence shows that humanitarian stakeholders and the private sector are recognising the potential to offer essential products and services in an emerging digital humanitarian ecosystem. However, there is little available evidence of the…

UNHCR Cash Assistance and COVID-19: Emerging Field Practices

This document from UNHCR is a snapshot of the many innovative field practices emerging in light of COVID-19. UNHCR preparedness and response to COVID-19 is comprehensive including cash assistance as a quick and efficient means of getting assistance to people fast, empowering families to deal with the crisis and meet their basic needs, mitigating some…

CVA in COVID-19 Contexts: Guidance from the CaLP network

This is a summary of the key points from rsources being shared on CVA and COVID-19. It is a living document and we  be updated as new resources are added. It is intended to help organisations understand and prepare for likely impacts of COVID-19 on their work, consider whether CVA is right for the contexts…

Don’t Jump Straight to Digital: What Ebola Taught Us About Trying to Force New Systems in Crisis

In this podcast from Care International, Holly Radice talks about how people have limited bandwidth to adopt new things in crisis, and how cash transfers in Ebola failed at digital solutions because of unrealistic expectations. Her recommendations: do everything you can to adapt and expand existing systems to push out cash safely, examine your context very carefully and…

Humanitarian Cash Transfers and Financial Inclusion

Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan receive more than one quarter of their humanitarian assistance in the form of cash and vouchers. Leveraging this aid delivery to connect refugees to the formal financial system requires the host country to have widespread digital financial ecosystem in place and coordination among governments, aid agencies, and financial service…

Proportionate Regulation in Uganda: A Gateway for Refugees Accessing Mobile Services in Their Own Name

The world’s refugee population is growing. Although mobile connectivity is not an antidote to the challenges refugees face, evidence shows that access to connectivity improves the lives of refugees in a variety of ways. Proof of identity is often required for individuals to activate mobile-enabled services in their own name, but many refugees do not have…

Seeking Solutions: New Roles for Technology in Cash and Voucher Programs

More people have been forced to flee their homes than at the height of World War II. The scale of these humanitarian crises are challenging, and sometimes outpacing, the capacity of institutions created to respond to them. Yet, the approaches available to reach populations in need have also advanced. In particular, the trend towards distributing…

Integrating Gender into Cash and Voucher Assistance in Humanitarian Settings

Given the Grand Bargain commitments to increase the use of cash and voucher assistance (CVA) where appropriate, it is critical that these commitments unfold hand in hand with commitments also made to gender equality in humanitarian settings. Recent research has shown, without adequate gender analysis and targeting, cash and voucher assistance can fail to reach…

Navigating the Shift to Digital Humanitarian Assistance: Lessons from the International Rescue Commitee’s Experience

The objective of this case study is to understand the International Rescue Commitees’s (IRC) motivation and experience shifting from in-kind to cash assistance – with a focus on digital cash – at both the headquarter (HQ) and country level. It explores the drivers and lessons learned in leveraging digital payment modalities, specifically mobile money. It…

Resilience in Action

The Resilience in Action Series aims to bring development practitioners one step closer to bridging the gap between theory and practice for integrating a resilience lens in programming, answering questions such as: How does a resilience lens change the design of interventions in key sectors? How do we shift design and implementation of interventions to…

The Future of G2P Payments: Expanding Customer Choice

Many low-income country governments have begun to digitize government-to-person (G2P) payments by making electronic transfers directly into the accounts of individual customers. While digitization has helped to fill the gaps in delivery, further advances are needed. Building modern payments systems can: Improve the customer experience by allowing customers to choose which providers and accounts they…

Principles for Digital Payments in Humanitarian Response

Cash transfers in humanitarian response can be leveraged to prioritize emergency needs first and, at the same time, build a bridge towards sustainable development goals including economic, social, and financial inclusion. When cash is transferred through digital payment mechanisms — one of many options available for delivery of cash in humanitarian assistance – this potentially…

Inclusive Digital Financial Services: A Reference Guide for Regulators

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Financial Services for the Poor Program (FSP) believes that effective financial services are paramount in the fight against poverty. Nonetheless, today more than 1.7 billion people live outside the formal financial sector. Increasing their access to high quality, affordable financial services will accelerate the well-being of households, communities, and economies in…

The Digital Lives of Refugees

This research produced by GSMA with UNHCR, looks at the ways in which refugees are using mobile phones to help guide digital interventions by humanitarian organisations and mobile network operators.  This research explores the ways in which mobile technology can improve access to financial services, utilities (notably energy) and identity services, as well as information…

Displaced and Disconnected

UNHCR recognizes that one of the ‘hard stops’ in facilitating mobile connectivity and access to finance for displaced populations is non-conducive regulatory environments. In particular, ID-related legal requirements have proven a significant barrier to access. For example, a refugee who cannot legally activate a mobile connection, open a bank account or access a mobile money…

Operations assessment and impact evaluation of Program Keluarga Harapan (PKH)

Microsave Consulting did an impact evaluation of the PKH conditional cash transfer program, one of the largest social assistance programs in Indonesia and managed by the Ministry of Social Affairs which has been operational since 2007. The objective of the study was to give a snapshot of the implementation of the program and to evaluate the…

Financial Journey of Refugees

The Financial Journey of Refugees project, led by Roxani Krystalli and Kim Wilson, investigates what money and financial transactions can reveal about the journeys and experiences of forced migration. It examines money as a key node of the displacement experience: fueling transactions among formal and informal actors along the way; determining livelihood options; shaping or…

Telesom ZAAD: Pushing the mobile money CVA frontier

This case study by the GSMA reveals the promise of mobile money-enabled cash and voucher assistance (CVA) programmes in Somaliland. It documents the innovative steps that ZAAD and humanitarian organisations have already taken to meet the needs of beneficiaries, and highlights the challenges mobile money providers (MMPs) and humanitarian organisations must overcome to scale further and…

Handbooks for use of mobile money enabled cash and voucher assistance (CVA) programmes

Billions of dollars in humanitarian cash and voucher assistance (CVA) programmes are currently delivered annually, and the humanitarian sector predicts this rapid growth will continue. Much of this assistance is delivered through digital channels, such as mobile money. Mobile money is one of the most prolific financial systems in developing countries and is, where available, the most viable option…

Sizing the mobile gender gap in refugee contexts

GSMA has done a lot of research showing the gender gap in mobile phone ownership and mobile internet use. In this case study, they looked specifically at whether there are gaps within refugee contexts, what those gaps are and the implications for humanitarian aid in two refugee settlements.

The case for mobile money enabled cash and voucher assistance (CVA) programming

The humanitarian sector has been evaluating the distribution of cash during times of crisis, and mobile money has been increasingly viewed as a solution. GSMA have put together a report with recommendations for MNOs and humanitarian organisations on how this can be done efficiently and effectively. Read more about the evaluation and recommendations here.

Bridging the mobile gender gap for refugees

This case study by GSMA highlights the experiences of refugee women (compared to men) with mobile technology in Bidi Bidi settlement in Uganda and Kiziba camp in Rwanda to demonstrate the value of closing the mobile gender gap.

E-Transfer Implementation Guide

The E-transfer Implementation Guide was created for Mercy Corps team members considering – or already using – digital technology to deliver cash or vouchers to program participants. Chapters 1 and 2 provide an overview of the steps required to use digital payments. The Annexes contain customizable tools and templates. The Implementation Guide incorporates lessons learned…

Mystery Shopping for Digital Financial Services: A Toolkit

This toolkit was developed with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in partnership with CGAP and the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Focus Group on Digital Financial Services (DFS). It is designed to help DFS regulators, providers, research firms, and other stakeholders use mystery shopping to monitor DFS markets. A mystery shopping exercise conducted…

Mobile-enabled energy for humanitarian contexts

This report by GSMA explores the case for pay-as-you-go solar home systems in Kakuma Refugee Camp.

The State of Social Safety Nets

The State of Social Safety Nets 2018 compiles, analyzes, and disseminates data and developments at the forefront of the social safety net (SSN)/social assistance (SA) agenda. This series of periodic reports is part of broader efforts to monitor implementation progress of the World Bank 2012–2022 Social Protection and Labor Strategy against the strategic goals of…

Financial Inclusion and G2P payments: Lessons from South Africa

G2P payments in South Africa, banking millions? The South African government, through the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), provides social assistance in the form of monthly payments to around 16.9 million beneficiaries including qualifying children, pensioners, war veterans and people with disabilities. Grants vary from R350 per month (approximately USD 25) for a child…

Reaching the last mile: Introducing Digital Payments for Refugees in Meheba, Zambia

This case study focuses on the journey to design and implement a project to digitize cash-based interventions (CBI) by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) in the Meheba refugee settlement of Zambia. The case study captures the entire journey to digitize CBI payments…

Expanding Financial Inclusion of Refugees in Uganda

The two main objectives of this study are: to compile data and evidence to increase Financial Service Providers’ (FSPs) knowledge of the potential client segment of refugees; and to clarify the  interventions and technical assistance needed by four participating FSPs to successfully offer or  scale up financial services to refugees in Uganda.

Integrating Financial Capability into Government Cash Transfer Programs

The purpose of this toolkit from the World Bank is to demonstrate the importance of financial capability, to describe its benefits for social cash transfer recipients, and to provide instruction and guidance on how to integrate financial education into government led cash transfer programs. The toolkit is intended to provide reference material for policy makers,…

Electronic Transfers in Humanitarian Assistance and Uptake of Financial Services

This report from The Cash Learning Partnership explores case studies on humanitarian electronic transfer (‘e-transfer’) projects in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. The projects delivered cash transfers via mobile money. Each case study examines the extent to which recipients used digital financial services (e.g. money transfers, savings, credit, purchases) through mobile money; the factors that affected…

The Effects of UNHCR and UNICEF Cash Assistance on Syrian Refugees in Jordan

This study aimed to find out what effects the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) cash assistance has had on beneficiaries’ lives. It had the following objectives: (1) to evaluate beneficiary spending patterns and their effect on family well-being; (2) to evaluate the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of…

More Phones, More Transfers?

This case study from Save the Children’s Emergency Food Security Program explores the use of Mobile Money in Bari, Nugaal, & Hiran Regions of Somalia. The study explores: To what extent has the mobile money project influenced the use of mobile money among the cash recipients? What are the key barriers and enabling factors in…

Managing Cash-based Programmes in a Volatile Markets Context

This case study from Care International explores the first large-scale humanitarian cash programme in Zimbabwe and presents learning and recommendations on how to design and adapt cash transfer programmes to mitigate the risk of a cash liquidity crisis. The study explores how the programme, which delivered cash through mobile money, coped with a national cash…

Digitising P2G Payments: A Global Landscape Study

At an estimated USD 8 trillion across the globe and USD 375 billion in lowand lower-middle-income countries alone, person-to-government (P2G) payments make up a significant part of the payments landscape. The value proposition for digitising these payments is clear and compelling. This paper explores the potential benefits of digitising P2G payments, challenges and factors which…

Prepaid Card Products for Humanitarian Programs: Actors, Insights & Recommendations

Today, over 130 million people need humanitarian support to survive. Fortunately, new tools such as prepaid cards allow us to respond to these needs with increasing flexibility and efficiency. Today’s leading humanitarian agencies are increasing their use of prepaid cards in places like Jordan, the Philippines, Greece and Turkey, where payments infrastructure is relatively well-developed.…

Government to Person Transfers

In this research, Guy Stuart, CFI Fellow and Executive Director of Microfinance Opportunities, assesses whether and how G2P payments increase formal financial inclusion. Stuart coupled observations, interviews and focus groups in Colombia and Pakistan with extensive analysis of reports on G2P payments covering 19 countries and quantitative data from the World Bank Global Findex.

Better Than Cash Alliance Webinar: Digital Food / Electronic Payments Pilot Study Presentation

The World Food Programme (WFP) transitioned from in-kind food aid to to electronic payments (“digital food”). In doing so they gained 15% cost efficiencies. This presentation made during a webinar presented by Better Than cash Alliance examines two food assistance projects in Kenya by WFP, and discusses how others can benefit from electronic payments.

Know Your Customer Standards and Privacy Recommendations for Cash Transfers

This report from UNHCR and World Vision reviews how Know Your Customer (KYC) standards – rules designed to combat criminal money laundering and terrorism financing – are applied in humanitarian cash programs. The report examines the practices of aid agencies and their processing of the personal information of aid beneficiaries for KYC purposes, and the…

Can Electronic Transfers Help the Poor? Evidence from a Field Experiment

Conditional and unconditional cash transfers have become an increasingly important component of social protection policies in both developed and developing countries. While such programs are often implemented electronically in developed countries, in many developing countries, cash transfers are distributed manually, resulting in significant costs. The introduction of mobile money transfer systems in many developing countries…

Understanding How Consumer Risks in Digital Social Payments Can Erode Their Financial Inclusion Potential

Because digital social payments (DSPs) recipients are a fast-growing, yet often overlooked, digital financial services (DFS) segment, acknowledging and addressing the most common and consequential consumer risks they face should be a priority for any program or provider seeking to unlock the potential benefits of DSPs for the poor. This paper from CGAP explores the…

Cheaper, Faster, Better? A Case Study of New Technologies in Cash Transfers from the Democratic Republic of Congo

This study from Mercy Corps compares three different cash transfer mechanisms used in one humanitarian program in the Democratic Republic of Congo: physical cash, electronic vouchers, and mobile money. The study set out to answer two specific questions: 1. What are the differences in cost and time required to deliver cash assistance through these three…

Working with Markets and Cash Standard Operating Procedures and Guidance Notes

As a humanitarian tool, cash and vouchers have a great potential to change the way humanitarian aid is delivered to respond to the multiple and diverse needs of crisis affected women and men. As cash transfer programmes continue to grow, Oxfam put together these Standard Operating Procedures to ensure consistency of process and clarity of…