Cash Digitization: UN Collaboration, Coordination, and Harmonization Opportunities
In a rapidly evolving humanitarian landscape — marked by more frequent crises, protracted conflicts, and climate shocks, among other challenges — cashbased transfers are on the rise. The humanitarian community increasingly looks to cash-based transfers for their ability to strengthen the resilience of populations and support longer-term development goals, and particularly to digital solutions that can drive financial inclusion and economic activity within a community.
However, cash-based transfers are generally not yet realizing their full potential. There is a need – and a powerful opportunity – to boost the impact of cash-based transfers through better coordination and harmonization among United Nations agencies that make humanitarian cash and digital payments.
At the same time, new payment innovations are proliferating, bringing vast improvements in security and authentication, among many other benefits. The case for stepping up collaboration is compelling.
This report, supported by the Better Than Cash Alliance, builds on the common strategies, policies, and business models of UNHCR, UNICEF, and WFP, who between them deliver over half of all global humanitarian cash assistance. The report identifies instances where collaboration is already happening, success factors, and an array of significant benefits.
It sets out three complementary approaches to scale up collaboration, supported by high-level recommendations designed to drive these approaches forward and harness the full potential of cash-based payments for the benefit of all stakeholders.