Focus Note: The Role of Digital Financial Services in Humanitarian Crises Responses

November 15, 2018
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The humanitarian aid sector is increasingly using digital financial services (DFS) – also known as mobile money - to further its cash-based assistance to crisis-affected populations. Whilst delivering humanitarian aid, DFS adoption can also further financial inclusion if developed and implemented properly.

This focus note describes the state of DFS use in humanitarian crises responses, available DFS solutions, and strategies to achieve both humanitarian and financial inclusion goals and common barriers to address for successful deployment. 

While it has proven its utility in many parts of the developing world, in some crises areas where technology infrastructure is often lacking, DFS may however only provide limited utility. In these cases, cash disbursements may provide a better solution by rapidly providing for the needs of those in crises areas. A cost-benefit analysis of available response solutions is also provided.

We provide a table of benefits and challenges of different types of humanitarian assistance: In-Kind, Cash only, DFS only, and Cash and DFS.

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