March 26, 2013 – Today Grameen Foundation announced that it has joined the Better Than Cash Alliance, an initiative founded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citi, Ford Foundation, Omidyar Network, USAID, U.N. Capital Development Fund and Visa Inc., by committing to continue transitioning payments from cash to electronic through its mobile financial services and mobile agriculture efforts.
“Grameen Foundation has been helping the poor access financial services for more than a decade and our experience shows that they value convenience,” said Alex Counts, president and CEO of Grameen Foundation. “Electronic payments can give the world’s poor safe, easy access to their money at a relatively low cost. We are therefore pleased to join the Better Than Cash Alliance so that we can join this collective effort to make these types of services more widely available, especially to the poorest and most marginalized people around the world.”
The shift to electronic payments in programs that currently distribute cash or in-kind goods to people living in poverty can result in significant cost savings, transparency, security, and economic growth. For example, a recent report by the World Bank found that governments can save up to 75 percent of costs by shifting to electronic payment programs.
The Better Than Cash Alliance works with governments, the development community and the private sector to adopt the use of electronic payments and provides resources to those who commit to make the transition.
Today 2.5 billion adults — more than a third of the world’s population — are excluded from the formal financial sector. This is most acute in the developing world, where approximately 80 percent of poor people are excluded. As a result, most poor households have no option but to subsist almost entirely in an informal, cash-only economy, making it extraordinarily difficult for them to access financial services like bank accounts, to save for the future, to build assets or to get credit. Electronic payments can create lasting benefits for people by creating opportunities to access formal financial services and begin to develop assets and save for the future.
“We commend Grameen Foundation on their leadership and commitment to empower people by transitioning to electronic payments through its mobile financial services and mobile agriculture initiatives,” said Ruth Goodwin-Groen, Managing Director of the Better Than Cash Alliance. “While the benefits of electronic payments are many, this shift requires resources and technical expertise and we look forward to providing this through our partnership with Grameen Foundation.”
Grameen Foundation joins the governments of Afghanistan, Colombia, Kenya, Peru and the Philippines along with development organizations USAID, the United Nations Development Programme, the World Food Programme, Mercy Corps, ACDI/VOCA, CARE USA, Chemonics International, and Concern Worldwide, have committed to digitize their disbursements and payments to people living in poverty, thereby becoming eligible members for technical and financial support from the Better Than Cash Alliance.
To join the Better Than Cash Alliance a government, company or organizations must:
1. Make a new commitment to digitize their disbursement of payments.
2. Designate senior staff member(s) to create and implement a change management program to reduce physical cash payments.
3. Share lessons learned with the Better Than Cash Alliance to inspire and equip others to overcome transition challenges.
As a partner, organizations will be:
1. Eligible for technical assistance and/or funding to support the transition if needed.
2. Recognized for leadership in Better Than Cash Alliance publications and media.
3. Invited to participate in learning opportunities as appropriate.
4. Given access to the latest research and case studies about lessons learned and what’s working for other Better Than Cash Alliance programme partners.
About Better Than Cash Alliance
The Better Than Cash Alliance partners with governments, the development community and the private sector to empower people by shifting from cash to electronic payments. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citi, Ford Foundation, Omidyar Network, USAID and Visa Inc. are the founders and the U.N. Capital Development Fund serves as the secretariat. To learn more, visit www.betterthancash.org and follow @BetterThan_Cash.
About Grameen Foundation
Grameen Foundation, a global nonprofit organization, helps the world’s poorest people – especially women – lift themselves out of poverty by providing appropriate financial services, life-changing information and unique business opportunities. Founded in 1997, Grameen Foundation has offices in Washington, DC; Seattle, WA; Colombia; Ghana; Hong Kong; Indonesia; Kenya; the Philippines; and Uganda. Microfinance pioneer Dr. Muhammad Yunus, founder of Grameen Bank and winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize, is a founding member of its Board of Directors, and now serves as director emeritus. For more information, please visit grameenfoundation.org.