Improving humanitarian payments through digital innovation: challenges and opportunities

The Better Than Cash Alliance released its flagship report on improving humanitarian payments through digital innovation: challenges and opportunities. The report aims at helping humanitarians decide when to use digital payments for their recipients while elaborating on the challenges and opportunities of digitising the delivery of humanitarian payments including what has worked, what has not, and what the future holds. To this aim, the report hinges on research-based analysis and practical advice for humanitarian agencies as well as diverse implementation examples from ten markets. It focuses on five key financial technologies in digital payments: mobile money, artificial intelligence (AI), distributed ledger technology (i.e. blockchain), super platforms, and QR codes, and assesses them against four essential criteria: people, places, periods, and policy. It further provides a set of recommendations on how to use each of these financial technologies responsibly to help and protect the most vulnerable segments of society. ‘It is vital to design programs that support the digital transformation of merchants and agents so that they fit into the economic ecosystem, in which humanitarian interventions operate. One solution does not fit all, and the quality of last-mile implementations will be determined by factors such as regulatory regimes and the maturity of the infrastructure,’ the report highlights.