Faster Delivery of Payments
Having the ability to send money quickly, across a long distance, whether as disaster assistance, medical treatment or other emergencies is more difficult to do with cash.1 Electronic payments can ensure speedier delivery of aid and benefits.
- A recent study of the use of electronic vouchers and mobile money to deliver aid following the earthquake in Haiti found that compared to cash, electronic vouchers eliminated three days from the delivery of aid, with mobile money distribution cutting the delivery time from 12 to 5 days.2
- In 2009, more than 1.5 million people living in the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan left their homes to escape ethnic fighting. NADRA, Pakistan’s national identity agency, Visa and partner banks used electronic payments to help distribute aid quickly, securely and transparently, while ensuring that the financial assistance reached the people in need. The program distributed over 300,000 Visa prepaid cards with 25,000 Pakistani rupees (US$300) to internally displaced persons for purchasing food and medicine.3
- In 2008, Vodafone and the UK Department for International Development’s (DFID) Business Call to Action (BCtA) launched the Vodafone Money Transfer platform known locally in Kenya, Tanzania, Fiji, Afghanistan, and South Africa as M-PESA or M-Paisa. The platform is saving recipients three hours and around 200 Ksh (US$2.59) per transaction because it reduces the need to travel to pay school fees, bills or transfer money.4
- With the switch from voucher books to electronic bank payments, social welfare recipients in Fiji are now able to access their payments in around 44 minutes compared to 28 hours (including travel and queuing time).5
Secure Delivery of Payments
Electronic payments can allow recipients to receive benefits safely and securely. In many cash-heavy countries, poor communities experience the risk of loss of cash acutely.6 A CGAP report found that when payments are made directly to the recipient through tools like debit cards or mobile phones, theft is reduced.
- A Mercy Corps study comparing the use of mobile money and physical cash distribution during the 2010 Haiti earthquake found that incidents of theft of cash transfers fell by more than 50 percent, due to the use of mobile money.7
- In 2008, Concern Worldwide pioneered the use of M-PESA for emergency cash transfers to food-insecure rural households in the remote Kerio Valley who had lost livelihoods in the post-election violence in Kenya. The security of electronic payments through a personalized SIM card was crucial in helping people buy food and essential items.8
1 “The Journey toward ‘Cash Lite,’” Better Than Cash White Paper, Bankable Frontier Associates
6 “The Journey toward ‘Cash Lite,’” Better Than Cash White Paper, Bankable Frontier Associates.