Smart e-Money Inc. provided a way for typhoon survivors to access critical aid payments using mobile technology, giving many their first chance to access formal banking services.
Good for society
- Smart e-Money helped typhoon survivors to start rebuilding their lives with a fast and easy way to access financial aid.
- The company's Mobile Cash Transfer Program promoted financial literacy and inclusive growth in communities previously excluded from the formal financial system.
Good for business
- Smart e-Money's Mobile Cash Transfer Program promoted aid transparency and accountability in the aftermath of the typhoon as cash transfers are easily monitored.
- The programme made the donations process more efficient and more secure as payments could be made electronically rather than relying on physical money.
In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) in 2013 the scale of the devastation meant that it was difficult for aid organisations to provide immediate financial assistance to people in the Philippines. Smart e-Money's Mobile Cash Transfer Program offered a way to provide immediate assistance through mobile technology.
Smart e-Money provided aid agencies including the United Nations, the World Food Programme, and the United States Agency for International Development with an electronic means to securely transfer wages from cash for work programmes to survivors who had lost everything in the typhoon. Participants were provided with a mobile phone kit and an ATM card so they could carry out fast financial transactions without having to rely on cash.
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas approved the request of Smart e-Money to relax the identification requirements from the usual eleven to three fields. This enabled survivors who had never used banking services before to transfer money even if they didn't have formal ID and documentation.
This successful public-private partnership helped survivors rebuild their lives following the disaster, giving many access to the formal financial system for the first time.
A fast, coordinated response
In the wake of Typhoon Haiyan Smart e-Money engineers were swiftly deployed to re-establish mobile phone coverage in key areas. Mobile deployment teams were formed to facilitate free calls and SMS to typhoon survivors, as well as set up ATMs and deliver financial literacy training. A dedicated Program Manager and mobile implementation team was assigned to ensure the efficient coordination of tasks, immediate response and clear decisions.
The Mobile Cash Transfer Program was widely recognised as one of the fastest disaster responses using mobile technology. When UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon visited Tacloban in 2013 he stated that the initiative should be replicated worldwide.
Financially sustainable support for survivors
Typhoon survivors who were part of the UNDP cash-for-work initiative were also given cash cards and mobile phones. They were paid for their work via electronic cash transfer to their LANDBANK account, which was linked to a mobile phone. This allowed them to access mobile bill payments, prepaid services, and peer-to-peer money transfers. Participants could also withdraw cash from mobile ATMs.
Aid partners were charged a minimal fee for account opening and payment processing. This covered the distribution of cards, financial education for participants, and deployment of mobile teams and mobile ATMs in different areas which had been badly affected by the typhoon.
The Mobile Cash Transfer Program provided financial assistance to over 450,000 households, enabling typhoon survivors to begin rebuilding their lives and their communities.
What Smart e-Money's CEO said:
“With the increasing adoption of smartphones and data usage, the Philippines is making a breakthrough in digital services, including the area of financial inclusion. Instead of just looking at the gaps in the financial inclusion index, we see all these as a huge opportunity for us to create more relevant digital financial services.
This public-private partnership underscores the efforts to help the survivors rebuild their lives following Yolanda. More than just getting their wages for their hard work from UNDP, this also allows them to have their own savings account with LANDBANK, giving them access to the formal financial system.” - Orlando B. Vea, President, Smart e-Money