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Policy paper

“Doing no harm” in the digital age: What the digitalization of cash means for humanitarian action

18 March 2021 — By Jo Burton, ICRC

Cash transfers have changed the way the humanitarian sector delivers assistance, and at the same time, digitalization is changing the way our world works in fundamental ways. The digitalization of cash means that the simple click of a button can put money in the hands of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people within minutes. Digital payments have been a game changer, opening the door to faster and more efficient delivery of life-saving assistance. Although physical currency will not disappear with the rise of digital payments, it is essential to balance the benefits of these digital processes with the risks. As humanitarians, we need to articulate what “do no harm” means in the digital age, applying this equally to the way we use digital payments to support people affected by armed conflicts and other situations of violence.


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