Digital Financial Tools Hold Promise to Improve Aid Delivery

CGAP, UNCDF, MasterCard logos

Digital Financial Tools Hold Promise to Improve Aid Delivery and Long-Term Resilience

ISTANBUL, Turkey, May 24, 2016: Leaders from the public, private, and non-profit world said today that digital financial tools such as mobile-phone based money transfers hold great promise to improve the delivery of financial assistance during humanitarian crises.

Speaking at a side event of the World Humanitarian Summit, the panelists said the benefits of these digital tools included reduced costs for management and security, greater control for beneficiaries on how and when they can use their money, and the potential for financial inclusion to enable resiliency. Such digital innovations have the potential to also build a bridge between humanitarian response and long-term resilience for victims once they are back on their feet.

The panelists pointed to a growing number of digital tools to deliver humanitarian aid more efficiently, including the use of pre-paid cards and the expansion of mobile banking agent networks.

The leaders were speaking at a panel discussion hosted by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), MasterCard, and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP). The event was moderated by Walt Macnee, vice chair of MasterCard Worldwide.

 Other panel members included:

  • Ms. Isata B. Kabia, Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Sierra Leone
  • Mr. Sushil Gyewali, CEO, National Reconstruction Authority, Nepal
  • Ms. Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director, World Food Programme
  • Mr. David Miliband, CEO, International Rescue Committee
  • Mr. Neal Keny-Guyer, CEO, Mercy Corps


Judith Karl, Panel Chairwoman and Executive Secretary of the UNCDF

"There are a range of digital get money into the hands of people who need it the most, and to do so quickly, securely, and in-full. When done well, this can be an effective and powerful way to enable people to get what they need when they need it. When it is linked to broader systems, it can lead to greater financial inclusion and enable people to start moving from response to resilience." She noted the UNCDF report just issued for consultation outlines what is required to make this happen.

Walt Macnee, Vice Chair of MasterCard Worldwide

"It is imperative that everyone has an identity that allows them access to aid via digital financial services, and that the very sensitive information entrusted to those that fund and deliver the aid is responsibly managed and protected. Let's tap into the experience of the private sector to accomplish this critical mission."

Greta Bull, CEO of CGAP

"Digital financial services can be a useful tool to get assistance quickly and securely to people who have been displaced or uprooted by violence or humanitarian crises. When designing these tools and products, it is important that we keep in mind the needs and desires of the recipients and that they are afforded the appropriate consumer protections. CGAP is pleased this issue is on the agenda at the World Humanitarian Summit." CGAP presented the findings from recent research on recipient experiences in digital social and humanitarian payments at the Summit.


UNCDF is the UN's capital investment agency for the world's 48 least developed countries.  With its capital mandate and instruments, UNCDF offers "last mile" finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development.  UNCDF's financing models work through two channels: financial inclusion that expands the opportunities for individuals, households, and small businesses to participate in the local economy, providing them with the tools they need to climb out of poverty and manage their financial lives; and by showing how localized investments-through fiscal decentralization, innovative municipal finance, and structured project finance-can drive public and private funding that underpins local economic expansion and sustainable development.

About MasterCard

MasterCard is a technology company in the global payments industry. We operate the world's fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments, and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities - such as shopping, traveling, running a business, and managing finances - easier, more secure, and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardNews, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.

About CGAP

CGAP is an independent think tank that works to empower poor people to capture opportunities and build resilience through financial services. We test, learn and develop innovative solutions through practical research and active engagement with our partners on building responsible and inclusive financial systems that help move people out of poverty, protect their gains and advance global development goals. Housed at the World Bank, CGAP is supported by over 30 leading development organizations committed to making financial services meet the needs of poor people.