In a climate of political and civil unrest, MasterCard is helping non-governmental organizations (NGOs) distribute aid and basic supplies to third world countries without the need of a telecommunications infrastructure.
‘Transforming the way NGOs deliver support to people in need’
The MasterCard aid network is an end-to-end solution which includes a chip-enabled card that isn’t pre-loaded with cash, but instead can contain packages of physical goods including food, medicine, and shelter.
MasterCard aims to give this technology to micro entrepreneurs and merchants in disaster-hit regions. Retailers that are participating in the scheme will be supplied a visual, user-friendly terminal that will accept aid cards that are given to the public.
The technology will enable merchants and NGOs to:
- Deliver aid quickly- MasterCard will train merchants on how to use the software with a web-based aid program. Time is saved as they do not need to integrate the tech with local financial service providers.
- Function in unreachable positions – An internet connection isn’t required to complete a transaction, so the solution can be deployed anywhere.
- Reduce costs and red tape – The cards can be used multiple times to collect aid so they eliminate the need for a voucher system. Recipients of the service go straight to the merchants to collect the aid, so NGO staff can be implemented elsewhere.
- Keep digitalised records – NGO staff can see the actual items a beneficiary purchase with their vouchers and quickly review merchant reports, eliminating concerns of voucher fraud.
- Be financially inclusive – For most third world countries, this will be a first step towards having digital financial services that could provide the groundwork to one day being financially inclusive.
‘‘With MasterCard Aid Network, we are transforming the way NGOs and other aid agencies can deliver support to people in need,’’ explained Walt Macnee, vice chairman of MasterCard.
‘‘We spent the past two years working with humanitarian organizations to develop a solution that works for everyone involved – populations in need, aid organizations, local merchants and donors.’’
Coming to the rescue
The aid payment solution has come at a time where the humanitarian network is under severe stress.
According to a recent report by the High Level Panel on Humanitarian Cash Transfers, nearly 60 million people around the world were displaced by conflict in 2014, and 218 million people a year are affected by natural disasters. This has put NGOs under pressure to find new tools to distribute aid.
MasterCard has already deployed its new aid technology to underserved countries.
The network has been working with Save the Children in Yemen, where approximately 41 percent of the population have been displaced due to civil and political unrest.
Evangelical Christian humanitarian group World Vision has also been using the digital tool, this time in the Philippines, helping small business owners recover from the devastation left by Typhoon Haiyan.
‘‘Our staff, vendors and aid beneficiaries were able to quickly adopt and use the system,’’ said George Fenton, Director of Humanitarian Operations Services of World Vision.
‘‘It also gave our field staff the ability to quickly add or restrict items depending on the type of intervention, saving us time and cost.’’
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