Making Electronic Payments Work for Humanitarian Response

Resource published May 1, 2016

This report builds the case for electronic payment preparedness to support humanitarian interventions by providing a baseline analysis of existing donor support for electronic payment preparedness and actual electronic payment preparedness needs in select high-risk disaster prone countries.

To realize a global scale-up in cash transfers, countries facing crises must have the necessary infrastructure and financial services in place to make payments safely and efficiently. E-payments mechanisms, including mobile-based money transfers and card- based payments such as prepaid debit cards, are effective tools that enable efficient and scalable transfers, improve transparency, and mitigate fraud in humanitarian response. However, these tools are not present in all countries. E-payment tools are increasingly common, but as yet impractical in countries with weak digital and financial infrastructure, regulatory environments, and/ or financial institutions.

Although there has been a substantial increase in donor and private sector interest and investment in digital nance systems worldwide during the past several years, countries or regions most at risk of natural or man-made disasters and where humanitarian organizations tend to respond are often overlooked in these investments.

The objective of this paper is to investigate both the current state of preparedness of e-payment systems to deliver cash transfers in emergency response and the extent to which existing efforts are actually preparing those e-payment systems to meet the specific e-payment needs of humanitarian agencies.

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