Improving the Use of Digital Payments in Humanitarian Response

A woman smiles while holding her phone and making a mobile banking transaction.
October 30, 2018

From 2015-2018, Mercy Corps convened the Electronic Cash Transfer Learning Action Network (ELAN). With support from the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and Paypal, the ELAN worked to improve the effectiveness and impact of humanitarian cash transfers through the appropriate use of payments technology. The ELAN brought together more than 650 members from the private sector, donor community, and humanitarian sector to challenge assumptions, overcome pain points, and forge partnerships to successfully deploy digital payments systems in some of the world’s toughest environments.

Many of the best practices and recommendations from the ELAN are captured in the online course Digital Humanitarian Cash: Extreme Operations, created in partnership with the Digital Frontiers Institute.

Humanitarian implementers, donor representatives, private sector partners, and policymakers working on issues of cash transfer programming, technology-for-development (T4D), digital payments, data protection/privacy, and financial inclusion may find these ELAN resources of interest.

Select Digital Payments Resources:

  • The Data Starter Kit

    A practical guide to help humanitarian field staff understand and manage data protection issues. Visit the online starter kit or download the PDF version.

    Download ▸ | View online ▸

  • Mobile Money Assessment and Contract Guide

    A toolkit designed to help humanitarian field teams understand how best to assess and evaluate mobile money service providers. Includes a glossary of key mobile money terms as well as a graphic of the mobile money process flow.

    Download the Guide: English ▸French ▸

  • Seeking Solutions: New Roles for Technology in Cash and Voucher Programs

    This brief was developed to inspire new thinking about solutions, products, and tools that could support the use of cash and vouchers in humanitarian response.

    Download ▸

  • Prepaid Card Products for Humanitarian Programs: Actors, Insights & Recommendations

    A report summarizing findings from a workshop held in London in 2016 which brought together prepaid service providers and humanitarian actors. Includes a diagram and glossary of terms commonly used in both industries (and frequently confused.)

    Download ▸

  • What to Know When Working with Humanitarians on E-cash Programs

    A primer for service providers hoping to work with humanitarian agencies (or curious about the humanitarian industry.) Includes an introduction to the business case for partnering with humanitarians, humanitarian principles and standards, and program participant characteristics.

    Download ▸

  • E-transfer Procurement: Learning and Good Practice

    Recommendations from a workshop held in September 2016 to improve procurement of e-transfer products used in humanitarian response.

    Download ▸

  • ELAN Humanitarian Know Your Customer (KYC) Case Studies: Uganda and the Philippines

    Case studies which explored the way in which two countries' KYC regulations impacted the speed and type of humanitarian assistance provided.

    Download ▸

  • Policy Brief: Electronic Transfers in Humanitarian Assistance and Uptake of Financial Services

    A commissioned brief by the Overseas Development Institute on the common barriers to uptake of financial services in emergency programming. This 4-page brief is a companion piece to the longerm “Electronic transfers in humanitarian assistance and uptake of financial services: a synthesis of ELAN case studies.”

    Download ▸

  • Electronic Transfers in Humanitarian Assistance and Uptake of Financial Services: A Synthesis of ELAN Case Studies

    A commissioned synthesis by the Overseas Development Institute on the common barriers to uptake of financial services in emergency programming. This synthesis looked at research findings from the ELAN case studies in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Zimbabwe and attempted to draw conclusions common to all three contexts.

    Download ▸ | Learn More ▸

  • Infographic: How to Design an E-transfer Program for Lasting Impact

    An infographic that condenses the key findings from the ELAN’s research into uptake of financial services in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Zimbabwe.

    Download ▸