Gov. to Person Payments

In recent years, governments in lower and middle income countries have been expanding social protection programs and are continuously shifting from in-kind assistance to cash transfers. In 2015, the World Bank’s State of Social Safety Nets report identified 589 programs in 145 developing countries and estimated that around 718 million recipients are enrolled in cash transfer programs--nearly 38 percent of the total estimated number of social safety net (SSN) recipients in developing countries.

With the evolution of national payment ecosystems and technological innovations that make financial services more accessible to remote and poor populations, including and most prominently in developing economies, governments and humanitarian agencies are realizing the possible efficiency gains of digitizing cash based assistance. While for the program management the most effectual gains from switching from in-kind or cash distribution to digital cash transfers are reduced administrative costs, better control of leakage and increased transparency, there is a significant potential of reaching a large part of the unbanked population by encouraging the use of formal financial services.

By 2014, the majority of cash transfer recipients globally—62 percent—were already receiving their benefits into an account or a mobile wallet. However, this trend is not as noticeable in low-income countries and among the poorest populations where cash disbursements are still dominating. According to the Global Findex 2014 there is an opportunity of linking up to 160 million unbanked adults to formal financial services by transferring government payments and wages directly into accounts or mobile wallets.

Yet, evidence from digital government-to-person (G2P) payment programs around the world cannot prove that opening accounts—or wallets—and transferring payments into these has an immediate financial inclusion effect. For example, Global Findex data revealed that 31 percent of accounts in low-income countries and globally seem to be ‘mailbox’ accounts used for only one or two withdrawals per month. Similarly, CGAP research in India found that 99 percent of the accounts opened for G2P disbursements were showing only one monthly transaction–a withdrawal of the total amount of the benefit transfer.

At CGAP we have explored and identified various reasons for the failed financial inclusion promise of digitizing social protection payments, ranging from use limitations of the account itself, insufficient recipient and agent training on using the accounts, negative and risky experiences by recipients trying to access and use these accounts, to the missing value proposition to intermediaries which translates into low quality products and customer service.

A new work stream at CGAP has started to explore good practices and designs for successful digitization of bulk payments, especially those targeting poor and often financially excluded populations. Building on prior research, CGAP combines its expertise in understanding the roles that policy, providers and the financial ecosystem play in advancing financial inclusion to develop a framework for digital bulk payments that are more valuable to citizens, governments and providers alike.


Country-specific resources










South Africa

The Philippines



12 May 2014
This Focus Note presents the evidence gained from a comprehensive study of the experiences in developing and implementing e-payment schemes linked to financial inclusion in Haiti, Kenya, the Philippines, and Uganda.
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English (24 pages) | Spanish (24 pages) | French (24 pages)
Mobile Formats:
iBook (1.9 MB) | Kindle (5.7 MB)
05 March 2014
This case study discusses the design and implementation of the Ti Manman Cheri conditional cash transfer program in Haiti as well as the experiences of stakeholders and overall lessons learned from this program.
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English (34 pages)

From Our Blog

Lolem, a widow and mother of four children, sells goods to Bamba Chakula recipients in a refugee camp in Kenya.
19 June 2017
Lolem Boyo Emilat is a trader in Kenya’s Kalobeyei settlement, where mobile payments have transformed her small business. Could bringing mobile money to more traders like Lolem be an overlooked opportunity to advance financial inclusion?