Humanitarian cash assistance – widely referred to in the aid sector as ‘cash and voucher assistance’ (CVA) – works within a monetary ecosystem which is evolving rapidly. Change, especially in the payments space, is being driven as much by ideology as technology, with discussions over whether physical or digital solutions are better in any given scenario taking place in the context of financial inclusion and the so-called ‘war against cash’. The UN hosting of The Better Than Cash Alliance, a ‘special interest’ group set up by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank, DFID and USAID, among others, seems to reflect this dichotomy.
If the CVA framework is to become more sustainable and resilient for societies facing crisis and disaster, the aid world needs to be aware of the continuing relevance of cash to national economies and society at large as well as more honest about the pitfalls of fintech innovation, especially in low-income societies where there is often little option but to pay with cash.
Digital delivery may indeed be more efficient, reduce transmission risks and promote financial inclusion, as CaLP’s State of The World’s Cash report alludes, but assertions like this can be disputed. For example, it may be that:
With these arguments in mind, this webinar will explore the potential benefits and harms of digital versus physical CVA options in the context of international relief and development.
The panel will gather:
and will be moderated by James Shepherd-Barron, Independent Disaster Management Consultant and Humanitarian Adviser to CashEssentials
Note that speakers should expect to be interrupted and challenged mid-flow. This is a discussion, not a formal presentation with some Q&A thrown in at the end.