Ideas & Updates

Digitizing Payments Responsibly in the Tea Sector – Ethical Tea Partnership joins Better Than Cash Alliance

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In 2021, Ethical Tea Partnership (ETP) formally became a member of the United Nations based Better Than Cash Alliance.

ETP’s membership marks a commitment to encouraging responsible payment digitization to promote inclusive growth, boost productivity, and improve the livelihoods of smallholder tea farmers and plantation workers. This is in alignment with ETP’s Strategy2030 for a thriving tea industry that is socially just and environmentally sustainable.

1.7 billion individuals who receive cash payments are excluded from the formal financial sector

In developing economies, salaries are often paid in cash, which lacks transparency, accountability, and security, and incurs additional cost and time. Individuals who receive cash payments are often part of the 1.7 billion excluded from the formal financial sector, the majority of whom are women. This means women are excluded from accessing and utilising a range of affordable financial services and products to help increase their economic participation.

Tea sector stakeholders are well placed to build transparency and accountability across the supply chain; with the right practices, employers can proactively safeguard and enable users to benefit from digital financial inclusion.

ETP’s efforts to scale ongoing payment digitisation initiatives in the tea sector will be in line with the UN Principles for Responsible Digital Payments, to ensure responsibility of design, safeguards and implementation is not overlooked. These nine principles define who needs to be responsible, what it means to be responsible and how to be responsible in the design and implementation of digital payments.

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The first initiative under ETP’s membership will focus on Rwanda, where the government is accelerating digitization of the agricultural sector as part of a goal to become a cashless economy by 2024. ETP and the Alliance are working with Rwandan tea sector stakeholders, including tea communities, to understand how we can support them with the transition from cash to responsible digital payments.

Jenny Costelloe, Executive Director for the Ethical Tea Partnership comments:

“Through this project, we will explore how digitising payments can lead to increased efficiency and improved incomes for tea farmers and workers. An assessment of the tea industry will examine barriers and limitations to digital payment adoption for tea farmers, as well as opportunities to increase uptake of digital financial tools and services. We’re excited to begin this body of work with Better Than Cash Alliance and other partners.”

Marjolaine Chaintreau, Head of Private Sector Digital Innovation, Better Than Cash Alliance adds:

“We are delighted to welcome the Ethical Tea Partnership to the Better Than Cash Alliance. ETP’s expertise and expansive reach across the global tea supply chain will be pivotal in ensuring the thirteen million tea workers worldwide, majority women, can reap the full benefits of digital financial inclusion.“