PayMaya, NGO group call for stronger digital financial ecosystem

A stronger digital financial ecosystem is needed to build our nationwide capability to swiftly respond to disasters and emergencies, executives of PayMaya and Oxfam say, citing outcomes from the Inclusive and Affordable Financial Facilities for Resilient and Developed Filipinos (iAFFORD) program.

In May 2018, 95 families in Balo-i, Lanao del Norte received their iAFFORD prepaid cards with funds that they can use to buy household items in nearby merchants and as capital to start a small business

The iAFFORD program is a collaboration among Oxfam and other key partners with PayMaya as the digital financial services partner. Beneficiaries are equipped with an iAFFORD card, an electronic cash and identification card in one, which can be used to quickly channel financial assistance in times of disaster and conflict.

“Building the capacity to respond quickly in times of disasters and humanitarian crises is the role of both the public and private sectors. Creating a strong digital financial services ecosystem in vulnerable communities improves disaster preparedness and enables faster recovery,” said PayMaya president Shailesh Baidwan.

“In our experience, digital financial services have transformed the way we implement our programs, revolutionizing not only traditional cash aid transfers but providing an entry point for financial inclusion for the poor, unbanked, and underserved so they are shielded from the effects of natural disasters and conflict,” said OXFAM Pilipinas country director Lot Felizco.

Oxfam is an international confederation of 19 organizations working together with partners and local communities in more than 90 countries.

Since 2016, PayMaya has tied up with Oxfam for the iAFFORD program. Beneficiaries of the program in identified communities are enabled with their own iAFFORD cards powered by PayMaya. The iAFFORD card doubles as identification and electronic payment card, allowing citizens to receive faster assistance in times of need through cash disbursements using PayMaya’s digital platform.

In its “Going Digital for the Poor and Unbanked” report published in March this year, Oxfam disclosed that over 41,000 Filipinos have been equipped with the i-AFFORD card powered by PayMaya. About 75% of the account holder beneficiaries are women, the primary demographic identified as the ones most excluded from financial services.

The i-AFFORD card strengthens their citizen identity, serves as their “wallet” for financial assistance, and opens up the benefit of digital technology through access to services such as convenient sending of funds to other account holders, discounted telco airtime load, electronic bills payments, store purchases, and online commerce transactions.

Over the course of 18 months, more than 1,200 micro and small businesses and agents were trained to provide affordable digital products — including airtime load, bills payments, Add Money service, and fund transfer, on top of QR payments acceptance. The resulting cash-lite ecosystem benefits both program beneficiaries and local businesses, helping spur digital transactions in the identified communities.

Overall, the iAFFORD program has made an impact to over 5.5 million Filipinos, giving program beneficiaries and their families, as well as local micro and small businesses, access to financially inclusive services and building stronger and resilient communities. Some of the areas that have benefited from the program include the Cordillera region, Eastern and Western Samar, Marawi, Cagayan, and Rizal, among others.

“Digital financial services unlocks more than just e-commerce. Its biggest impact is in making the lives of Filipinos better. It spurs entrepreneurship and improves livelihood. For humanitarian organizations and local governments, it makes the delivery of citizen services faster, more efficient, and more transparent,” Baidwan added.

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