One of the major findings from the humanitarian cash and voucher (CVA) assistance landscaping project was that mobile money is seldom used to deliver CVA despite some of its important advantages. The GSMA Mobile for Humanitarian Innovation (M4H) team wanted a resource for mobile money providers explaining the fundamentals of humanitarian CVA, strategies for winning contracts, and a detailed explanation of the best practices in CVA operations.
We interviewed over 30 experts, conducted an extensive literature review, and carried out field visits to humanitarian emergencies in three countries. In Jordan, we conducted a field visit with Mercy Corps to a mobile money CVA project, interviewed stakeholders in Amman and convened a national workshop on the topic.
With the support of UNHCR, we visited the Bidi Bidi settlement in northern Uganda, interviewing mobile money field staff and agents. We also went on a field visit with DanChurchAid, which was using mobile money and e-vouchers to deliver humanitarian aid in the settlements. Further, we convened stakeholders in Kampala for a national workshop on mobile money CVA.
Lastly, in Somaliland we conducted a field visit with Telesom ZAAD, interviewing top management as well as mobile money merchants and agents. The Somalia Cash Consortium assisted by arranging interviews with humanitarian organisations delivering aid in Somaliland, and conductung a field visit to a Concern International mobile money CVA project.
This field work juxtaposed leading mobile money countries (Somaliland, Uganda) with nascent ones (Jordan), and urban humanitarian contexts (Somaliland, Jordan) with rural and remote ones (Uganda). The remote interviews we conducted also allowed us to understand experiences from Niger, Cameroon, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, and Syria.
Besides the internal outputs produced for GSMA, we authored an operational handbook for mobile money providers along with three case studies on mobile money CVA in Jordan, Uganda, and Somaliland (case studies still to be published).
The core message of the research is that most humanitarian CVA programs desire a payments system with greater geographic reach, higher-levels of customer service, and more advanced technology (like biometrics) than what is available in the market. Many mobile money providers could build a competitive offering, but the large investment required to design new products and operational systems prevents them from doing so given revenues earned from CVA are relatively low in the short term. Hence, partnerships between humanitarian organizations and mobile money providers to co-design solutions will be crucial to improved CVA delivery.
The operational handbook guides mobile money providers through the strategic considerations they need to make before engaging in delivering CVA, provides a comprehensive list of the types of innovations humanitarian organizations are seeking, and maps out the operational procedures they would need to execute if they decide to engage.
For more information, find the mobile money CVA operational handbook here: Mobile Money Enabled Cash Aid Delivery: Operational handbook for mobile money providers