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World Economic Forum, MasterCard and GSMA Commit to Lead Initiatives on Scaling-up Humanitarian Payments in Emergency Situations

The World Economic Forum, MasterCard and the GSMA join together at the World Humanitarian Summit, held this week in Istanbul on 23-24 May, to commit to lead initiatives that will improve the way people receive humanitarian assistance in the form of diverse payments following a crisis.

23 May 2016 — By MasterCard, GSMA


Istanbul, Turkey, 23 May 2016 – The World Economic Forum, MasterCard and the GSMA join together at the World Humanitarian Summit, held this week in Istanbul on 23-24 May, to commit to lead initiatives that will improve the way people receive humanitarian assistance in the form of diverse payments following a crisis.

Following the UN Secretary-General’s call for cash-based assistance to become the preferred method to support people in emergencies wherever possible, these commitments represent a major step to enable the scaling-up of a variety of payments in humanitarian situations.

In the lead-up to the World Humanitarian Summit, business consultations with the private sector and humanitarian agencies have resulted in a series of recommendations on how the private sector and humanitarian community could work together as partners. As a result, the partners are committing to the following initiatives in Istanbul:

  • A global, multi-year initiative on data management and protection under the leadership of MasterCard: “The benefits of using digital payments for humanitarian aid are numerous, and perhaps the most impactful is how they put beneficiaries on the path to financial inclusion. But a critical precursor to financial inclusion is social inclusion – having an identity – a basic need that 1.5 billion people lack,” said Tara Nathan, Executive Vice-President of Public-Private Partnerships at MasterCard. “It is vitally important that we establish data and security standards and best practices to ensure everyone has an identity that empowers them to access digital aid, yet protect the very sensitive information entrusted to those who fund and deliver the aid. The data and identity initiative will tap into the experience of the private sector to accomplish this critical mission.”
  • Development of Principles for Public-Private Cooperation in Humanitarian Payments facilitated by the World Economic Forum: The World Economic Forum is committing today to facilitate the Shaping of Principles for Public-Private Cooperation in Humanitarian Payments, as requested by the United Nations and the broader humanitarian community. “There is tremendous scope for the public and private sectors to collaborate more effectively in emergency situations. From successes in Pakistan more than five years ago, this growing collaboration in humanitarian payments is a clear indication of the direction of travel when it comes to delivering humanitarian assistance. The challenge now is to scale-up efficiently to help as many people as possible, as quickly as possible,” said Cheryl Martin, Head of the Centre of Global Industries and Member of the Managing Board at the World Economic Forum.

The Forum is proud to announce the additional confirmed support of 18 leading public and private humanitarian-payments organizations in this commitment. They are: the CALP Network, Devex, Ericsson, GSMA, the International Rescue Committee, IPA, MasterCard, Mercy Corps, PayPal, Red Rose, SAP, Special Circumstances, Tata Consultancy Services, the United Nations, Visa, Vodafone, Women’s World Banking and Western Union.

  • Expansion of the footprint and impact of the GSMA’s Humanitarian Connectivity Charter through which mobile operators commit to support humanitarian response and improve preparedness and resilience among networks in disasters: “The humanitarian crises facing our global community today are unprecedented and the unique scale and reach of mobile networks can help meet the challenges faced by humanitarian responders,” said Mats Granryd, Director-General of the GSMA. “We are announcing today that the GSMA is committed to further expanding the footprint of the Humanitarian Connectivity Charter, now covering over 50 countries, and we will offer our expertise in mobile money and disaster preparedness and response to help address the opportunities and challenges of mobile money disbursements in disaster-prone countries. The challenge before us is enormous and we must work in close collaboration, leveraging technology and building sustainable partnerships to reduce suffering and preserve the dignity of those affected by crisis.”

 “The World Humanitarian Summit is calling for bold commitments that will shape future humanitarian action,” said Stephen O’Brien, United Nations Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator. “We need to better coordinate with our private-sector partners to make cash transfers one of the preferred methods for humanitarian response. We need to move relationships between the humanitarian agencies and the private sector from transactional to transformational. I congratulate our partners in these initiatives for their leadership and commitment to the new ways of working together by focusing on the core expertise of each partner with the aim to make a real difference for people in need.”

Those major breakthroughs demonstrate greater collaboration between humanitarian actors and the private sector towards the common objective of delivering more accountable, effective and people-centred humanitarian assistance.

Additional media contacts

MasterCard, Marisa Grimes,, +1 914 325 8367

GSMA, Claire Cranton,, +44 788 583 9427