Better Than Cash Alliance: Updates during the Connected World Forum 2012

The following presentation was given by Steven Rynecki from USAID/Afghanistan during the recent Connected World Forum to introduce the Better Than Cash Alliance during the Mobile Money Academy on Thursday November 22, 2012.

The Better Than Cash Alliance is a partnership of Governments, the Private Sector and Development Organizations – including multilateral, bilateral and NGOs – who are committed to shifting their cash payments to electronic payments, which range from mobile wallets to bank accounts.

This shift is important because it saves money and increases transparency and accountability for these partners but perhaps more importantly it means that clients for the first time have access to a safe place where they can save and build assets and have access other appropriate financial services.

If you have not heard of it before that is not surprising because it was only recently launched! The Founding Members of the Alliance are The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Citi, Ford Foundation, Omidyar Network, USAID, and Visa, with UNCDF as the Secretariat.  Join me as we show a brief video that was shown was shown at the launch.

Why Shift to Electronic Payments

Cost Savings: decrease costs of cash or in-kind payments.

  • In Brazil, when Bolsa Familia grants were made through electronic payment cards, administrative costs were cut from 14.7% to 2.6%
  • In Mexico, welfare recipients who got paid electronically saved 77% in travel costs compared to those who were paid at central cash depots.
  • In the Philippines, GCASH Remit mobile money service is used to help the government provide conditional cash transfers to hundreds of thousands of families not able to be serviced in rural areas.

Transparency: increase accountability and tracking, reducing corruption and theft.

  • In Afghanistan, when National Police received their salaries via mobile phones, they that they had received a 30% raise—whereas they were just receiving their full wages for the first time.
  • In Argentina, when there was a shift to electronic payment cards, those admitting to paying bribes decreased from 3.6% to 0.3%.

Security: typically safer and faster delivery.

  • Following the earthquake in Haiti, electronic vouchers cut aid delivery time by 3 days while mobile money cut aid delivery time by 7 days.
  • In Kenya, people have been voting for electronic with their mobile phones.  Now those sending money home to the country from the city send it via M-Pesa rather than bus drivers—getting it there more quickly and with greater certainty.

Financial Inclusion: can accelerate access to financial services.

  • In Peru, people receiving social welfare payments electronically now have the opportunity to save and build assets in those accounts established for receipt of these payments.

New Market Access: open doors for new business models for previously excluded people.

  • In Ghana, over 300,000 people were able to get access to insurance to help them with cover funeral expenses which are a social obligation—and an expensive one—obtained through the mobile network operator Tigo
  • Mercy Corps is launching Agri-Fin Mobile, which will enable hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers on two continents greater access to mobile financial services bundled with mobile farm productivity information.
  • In the Philippines, BPI Globe BanKO has opened up more agent locations in one year than any other bank in the country and has opened up more than 200,000 mobile money enabled bank accounts within the first 8 months of operations.

Advocacy for shifting includes engagement at conferences, high-level meetings, closed-door meetings.

The policy, technical, and financial assistance will be made available primarily through a Technical Assistance Facility that is under development.  It will also include support for peer learning, so that lessons learned can be shared, enabling shifts to be made more quickly and easily.

The first research product is available in the form of a white paper which can be downloaded from the website www.betterthancash.org.

Although we just launched recently, we already have commitments to make the shift to electronic payments from the governments of Peru, Colombia, Kenya, and the Philippines.  Other stakeholders too have made their commitments:  from bi- and multi-lateral organizations, commitments have come in from USAID, UNDP and the WFP.  From the non-government organizations and the private sector, CARE, Mercy Corps, Concern Worldwide and Chemonics International Inc. have led the way.

Over recent weeks, and especially at the launch event in New York on September 24th and AFI and GPFI meetings in Cape Town in October, and the GSMA Conference in Milan two weeks ago, we have been listening to stakeholders to ensure that the Better than Cash Alliance is prepared to support them in this “shift, not drift.”  We have heard that there are challenges of coordination, leadership, technological, and trust, but that these are not insurmountable. We invite you as well to tell us how this Alliance can best contribute to transitioning to electronic payments.  And we hope to hear more from you about this after the other presentations today.

Let me close with a statement by Florencio Abad, Secretary of Budget and Management, the Philippines made at the launch:  “By joining the BTC alliance, we hope to have not only more opportunities to collaborate and learn from our peers, but also to gain more political support for greater electronic governance.”

For more on the Better Than Cash Alliance and how you can be involved, feel free to check out the website at www.betterthancash.org

Tomorrow and the next day, we will share the second part of this presentation, which focussed on Chemonics lessons learned from managing USAID projects that supported the use of mobile money for development purposes.

Related:

The Better Than Cash: Experiences Using Mobile Money in the Field 

Best Blogs & Websites on Mobile Money in the Developing World Part 2

Better Than Cash Alliance

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