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Enabling Digital Financial Services in Humanitarian Response: Four Priorities for Improving Payments

2017 — By Valerie Nkamgang Bemo, Dilwonberish Aberra, Jamie M. Zimmerman, Amanda Lanzarone, David Lubinski

The humanitarian sector is increasingly turning to digital payments to distribute cash-based aid, but many efforts remain fragmented around custom built solutions that miss opportunities to build strong, enduring pathways to financial inclusion and resilience for crisis-affected populations.

Few solutions leverage or support the standardization and scale of existing, commercially-available digital payment systems and ecosystems that are critical to achieving robust, affordable, and enduring access to financial services for the poor. Yet the ability to meet the technical requirements does not prevent the use of these systems. Instead, a set of non-technical issues preclude the use of these standard-based, commercial systems.

This brief explores four priorities to address and mitigate the most critical barriers in order to enable the increased use of commercially-available mobile wallets in humanitarian response.