Advancing the digitisation of humanitarian cash transfers in Africa

Strategic Impact Advisors (SIA) supported a consortium comprising FSD Africa, the GSMA, Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA) and FCDO Nigeria to develop concept notes to advance the digitisation of humanitarian cash transfers and government to person (G2P) payments in Nigeria. The concept notes ideas originated from the first phase of this work which assessed the feasibility of digitising Nigeria’s humanitarian and G2P cash transfers through primary and secondary research. The results of this research were published in a report and accompanying roadmap, with specific recommendations for supporting digitisation efforts.

The second phase of the work involved a series of key informant interviews and workshops to finalise the concept note scopes, secure partners and develop budgets and workplans.  Four concept notes were developed, namely: 1) Digital Savings for cash transfer recipients, 2) G2P recipient segmentation, 3) humanitarian recipient segmentation and 4) Foundational ID registration support.

About the concept notes:

Digital savings groups for cash transfer recipients

By digitising savings groups, of which most of the membership will be women, this concept seeks to deliver more familiarity, trust, and value propositions around formal financial service account ownership through savings group digitisation and formal financial service provider linkages.  Evidence shows that linking savings groups to formal financial institutions brings a variety of benefits including 1) Improved safety of funds for the group, 2) Increase in financial performance, particularly for groups that are able to access larger credit facilities to on-lend within groups[1] and 3) Having access to formal savings accounts allows groups to save for longer than one cycle (groups typically need to start from zero after each cycle).[2]

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G2P recipient segmentation

This concept note proposes segmenting digital payment-ready recipients based on National Cash Transfer Office (NCTO’s) existing recipient registry data as well as issuing digital cash transfers to these recipients. Digital financial literacy training is a critical element to this concept note as is measuring the impact of the digitisation after three payments rounds. Digitising cash transfers can lead to program recipients accessing and using these accounts to help manage their financial lives productively and confidently. Following the segmentation, this concept note proposes issuing open-loop digital payments to the recipients most ready to receive digital payments. Open-loop payments are linked to the broader financial ecosystem and allow recipients to access a broader suite of financial services beyond the context of the cash transfer programme.

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Humanitarian recipient segmentation

This concept note is similar in scope to the G2P segmentation concept note, but with humanitarian organizations rather than government entities. Following the segmentation, this concept note proposes supporting a financial service partner in registering and activating beneficiaries who the segmentation model indicates are ready.  The humanitarian partner for this concept note, will then work with the service provider to deliver digital and financial literacy training to beneficiaries to ensure they are aware of the different services available through these accounts.  The humanitarian partner will then test the model by using these accounts to deliver unrestricted cash transfers to these beneficiaries, and monitor how they are used.

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Foundational ID registration support

Given the Nigerian context, this concept note seeks partnerships between the World Food Programme (WFP), the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and Inclusion for All to expand access to a National Identity Card (NIN) for recipients of food assistance programming. WFP would leverage its extensive network of field staff and operational footprint to provide a support infrastructure to the NIMC to accelerate NIN registration. This will involve sensitizing recipients on the benefits of a NIN, supporting recipients in collecting documents as well as logistical, operational and infrastructure support to NIMC throughout the recipient registration process.

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About the Concept Notes Package

This concept notes package includes Nigeria-specific versions as well as country agnostic versions. Many of the recommendations identified for Nigeria through this research are applicable for other countries as well and can be used as a valuable resource that can be adopted. Each package includes (i) the concept notes in word, (ii) a PowerPoint presentation that can be used to pitch the concept notes and (iii) a workplan in Excel that details activities and time requirements to implement the concept note.

How to Use the Concept Note Packages

  • Supplementing your current proposal content to add digitisation and access to finance elements that may help expand impact
  • Providing templates for your organization to seek additional funding for your ongoing programming.
  • Building your organization’s boiler plate language around key integrations of digital economy and digital finance into your future programs.
  • Provide materials (i.e. summary decks and documents) that will help make the case and improve your pitch to donors regarding digitisation of humanitarian and government social payments
  • Provide an overview of detailed activities that will be required to complete key phases of each concept note.