This blog is part of a NetHub series that looks at technology trends that will help to shape a bright global future. Read more on the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting and NetHope here.
In the developing world, billions of dollars in cash is exchanged every month between governments, companies and donor agencies for various reasons: salary, social welfare payments, cash-for-work programs, emergency relief and money transfers. The majority of these payments are given in physical cash, but advancements in technology and network capabilities have introduced safer, speedier, more reliable and transparent ways for exchanging those funds.
Replacing physical cash payments with electronic payments provides improvements for governments and communities alike. For instance, when the Government of Afghanistan started paying government employees and police officers through mobile phones via a grant from USAID, it immediately cut out so much graft that some employees actually thought they were getting at 30 percent raise. Mobile money also makes it easier to tax the transactions and root out ‘ghost’ payrolls.
These same approaches can be applied more broadly, allowing international businesses, donors and aid agencies to build more efficient, effective and transparent cash transfer programs.
To increase the adoption of electronic payments, global leaders from both the public and private sector need to share a commitment to making the operational shift to non-cash payments. With the leadership from NetHope and USAID, The Better than Cash Alliance (BTC Alliance) will bring together governments, donors, international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and private companies to create a broad cross section of resource and program partners to drive this transformation.
I look forward to this week of discussion and dialogue in Davos on the topics have the most weight in shaping our future. Join the conversation on Twitter by following NetHope, @NetHope_Org, and using the hashtag #WEF.