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News round-up: Digitizing cash transfers

We’ve used mobile payments to deliver cash transfers since launching in Kenya in 2009. But many cash transfer programs around the world – including large-scale programs run by governments – still operate with physical cash, which is often costly, slow, and prone to error and corruption. Increasingly we’re seeing programs shift to mobile and other electronic payment solutions as they continue to spread rapidly. Here are a few recent developments that we think are particularly exciting:

  • Bank Indonesia launched an electronic payment system too support a flagship government conditional cash transfer program, Program Keluarga Harapan (PKH). Beneficiaries can text either of two state-run lenders to receive an identification number, which they can show to registered agents in their neighborhood to access their funds.
  • The Indian government is experimenting with electronic disbursement for various government schemes that involve cash payments. The National Rural Health Mission in Jharkhand state piloted the use of M-Pesa to disburse money directly to beneficiaries – in this case, women giving birth in a health facility.
  • The Rwandan government has joined the Better Than Cash Alliance in a move to advance its commitment to transition all forms of government payments to electronic forms.