Leaders from the public, private and non-profit world said today that digital financial tools such as mobile-phone based money transfers hold great promise to improve the delivery of financial assistance during humanitarian crises.
Speaking at a side event of the World Humanitarian Summit, the panelists said the benefits of these digital tools included reduced costs for management and security and greater control for beneficiaries on how and when they can use their money. Such digital innovations have the potential to also build a bridge between humanitarian response and long-term resilience for victims once they are back on their feet.
The panelists pointed to a growing number of digital tools to deliver humanitarian aid more efficiently, including the use of pre-paid cards and the expansion of mobile banking agent networks.
The leaders were speaking at a panel discussion hosted by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), MasterCard and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP). The event was moderated by Walt Macnee, vice chair of MasterCard Worldwide.
Other panel members included:
• Ms. Isata B. Kabia, Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Sierra Leone
• Mr. Sushil Gyewali, CEO, National Reconstruction Authority, Nepal
• Ms. Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director, World Food Programme
• Mr. David Miliband, CEO, International Rescue Committee
• Mr. Neal Keny-Guyer, CEO, Mercy Corps
QUOTES FROM ORGANIZERS:
Judith Karl, Panel Chairwoman and Executive Secretary of the UNCDF
"There are a range of digital systems…to get money into the hands of people who need it the most, and to do so quickly, securely, and in-full. When done well, this can be an effective and powerful way to enable people to get what they need when they need it. When it is linked to broader systems, it can lead to greater financial inclusion and enable people to start moving from response to resilience," She noted the UNCDF report just issued for consultation outlines what is required to make this happen.
Walt Macnee, Vice Chair of MasterCard Worldwide
“It is imperative that everyone has an identity that allows them access to aid via digital financial services, and that the very sensitive information entrusted to those that fund and deliver the aid is responsibly managed and protected. Let's tap into the experience of the private sector to accomplish this critical mission.”
Greta Bull, CEO of CGAP
“Digital financial services can be a useful tool to get assistance quickly and securely to people who have been displaced or uprooted by violence or humanitarian crises. When designing these tools and products, it is important that we keep in mind the needs and desires of the recipients and that they are afforded the appropriate consumer protections. CGAP is pleased this issue is on the agenda at the World Humanitarian Summit.”