Tech – the way forward: Roundtable on ‘Government to Person’ cash transfers

The World Bank (WB) and Pakistan Microfinance Network (PMN) organised a roundtable discussion titled ‘Financial inclusion and literacy outcomes: Way forward for technology-based payments’ in Peshawar on Wednesday.

The half-day event was the second in a series of sessions to take place under the WB’s Rapid Social Response (RSR) Trust Fund to raise provincial stakeholders’ awareness on financial inclusion by way of cash transfer payment programmes in the province.

Departments involved in Government to Person or G2P cash transfer programmes were part of the discussion. These include departments of Zakat and Usher, Health, Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) and Social Welfare and Women Empowerment. Other stakeholders such as National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and commercial financial institutions also participated. The discussions centred around the technology currently employed and feedback from the provincial stakeholders on their ability and interest in using technology for cash transfers.

PDMA advisor Shah Nasir Khan acknowledged issues of fraud in tech-enabled cash transfers still exist and emphasised due diligence by partner organisations was imperative to strength such G2P programmes.

As implementing partners, banks need to make sure beneficiaries receive the cash disbursement as soon as funds are released, explained representatives from Telenor Easy Paisa. They laid onus on the financial institution to redress difficulties faced by beneficiaries in receiving their payment.

NADRA pointed out its robust complaint redressal system to support tech-based cash transfer programmes. According to its representatives, it quickly resolved 70% of the one million complaints lodged to date – 300,000 of those complaints originated from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Both PMN and WB officials discussed the efficacy of G2P payments using technology, the role such a system plays in successfully delivering a social service and the opportunities at a provincial level for the use of G2P payments by provincial departments.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd, 2013.