Last Mile Payments and NGOs - the hidden engine of crisis response

Last Mile Payments and NGOs – the hidden engine of crisis response

Responding to a humanitarian crisis is a complex task that needs to be performed in the most efficient way at incredibly short notice. Often this requires a significant mobilisation of resources by the development community, not just in terms of people, basic goods and services, but also when mobilising funds from donors and getting them to the people in need of support.

As financial services specialists working at the nexus of banking and international development, we see our role as complementing the excellent work done by the wider development sector – we enable them to mobilise funds and get them where they are needed, into some of the world’s most complex markets and situations.

It is often in the final leg or the ‘last mile’ of the payment, where funds go directly into the hands of a community or individual that these processes present the biggest challenges. These communities are often located in rural or hard-to-reach areas and individuals may not have access to a bank account, mobile phone, internet connectivity or even formal identity documents. Even if funds can reach mobile wallets or cards, redeeming that value for the end recipients can be difficult, particularly if they are relying on cash. This presents a complex suite of challenges to the international NGO seeking to pay funds into these environments.

For Nkosi Moyo, Head of Global Payments at Crown Agents Bank, “technology is perhaps the ‘easy’ part.” Nimble and disruptive companies are developing a wide range of technological tools, from card and mobile wallet solutions to biometric identity verification systems which support cash disbursements to the community. For Paycode’s Zambian founder Ralph Pecker, their team has “sought to build a product suite that secures digital identity and payments in deep rural areas without the need for a physical bank branch, connectivity or fixed residence, to get that payment from bank to under the mango tree!”.

These technology solutions, however, must exist within a wider compliant banking and payments ecosystem that permits rapid and reliable settlement. For Moyo, international NGOs rarely face a fixed challenge but are presented with “a spectrum of issues that are highly context-dependent” and vary by crisis. NGOs’ technology and banking partners need to be adaptive.

Join us for our upcoming event: Last Mile Payments – challenges and opportunities for international NGOs

On 30th March, Bond and Crown Agents Bank are delighted to be hosting a roundtable discussion and networking session focussed on last-mile payments in complex and challenging operational environments.

Register interest here

Along with our partners and colleagues at Bond, Crown Agents Bank is developing a series of events and workshops to explore the challenges international NGOs are facing in more detail and to share experiences of successful projects and initiatives from across the development sector. At our first session for 2023, we will be joined by our partner Paycode, whose biometric digital identity and payments technology is designed to allow people without bank accounts the ability to transact offline in real time. Alongside them will be representatives from Mastercard and Afghanistan International Bank who will share their approaches and experiences with the group.

The recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria and the conflict in Ukraine are timely reminders of the need for funds to be able to arrive on the ground promptly, safely and compliantly. We hope you can join us on Thursday 30th March for our event Last Mile Payments – challenges and opportunities for international NGOs. Find out more and register interest here.

Please note that this session is recommended for finance directors or treasurers. Should the session be impacted by UK rail strikes, registrants will be advised of an alternative date.


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