Responsible Finance Forum

CASH DIGITIZATION: UN COLLABORATION, COORDINATION, AND HARMONIZATION OPPORTUNITIES

Antoine Berthaut, Bertrand Ginet, Sebastian di Paola and Tobias Thayer
Source:  Better Than Cash Alliance
 
 UNHCR
 
 UNICEF
 
 World Food Programme

In a rapidly evolving humanitarian landscape — marked by more frequent crises, protracted conflicts, and climate shocks, among other challenges — cash-based transfers are on the rise. The humanitarian community increasingly looks to cash-based transfers for their ability to strengthen the resilience of populations and support longer-term development goals, and particularly to digital solutions that can drive financial inclusion and economic activity within a community.

However, cash-based transfers are generally not yet realizing their full potential. There is a need – and a powerful opportunity – to boost the impact of cash-based transfers through better coordination and harmonization among United Nations agencies that make humanitarian cash and digital payments. At the same time, new payment innovations are proliferating, bringing vast improvements in security and authentication, among many other benefits. The case for stepping up collaboration is compelling.

This report, supported by the Better Than Cash Alliance, builds on the common strategies, policies, and business models of UNHCR,  UNICEF, and WFP, who between them deliver over half of all global humanitarian cash assistance. The report identifies instances where collaboration is already happening, success factors, and an array of significant benefits. It sets out three complementary approaches to scale up collaboration, supported by high-level recommendations designed to drive these approaches forward and harness the full potential of cash-based payments for the benefit of all stakeholders.

This report is the outcome of the project on collaboration, coordination, and harmonization of cash delivery, led by the Treasurers of UNICEF, UNHCR, and WFP, and made possible by the Better Than Cash Alliance. The objective of the project is to identify short-, medium-, and longer-term actions that these agencies can take to improve their collaboration in the delivery of cash-based transfers (CBT) in humanitarian contexts, including through digital payment solutions.

The above text is included in the Executive Summary of the report on BTCA’s website