Cell phones, electronic delivery systems and social cash transfers: Recent evidence and experiences from Africa

Authors

  • Katharine Vincent,

    Corresponding author
    1. Regional Hunger and Vulnerability Programme, Johannesburg, South Africa
      Katharine Vincent, Regional Hunger and Vulnerability Programme, 1st Floor, 22 Wellington Road, Parktown, Johannesburg 2193, South Africa; Email: katharine@rhvp.org. Tracy Cull, Regional Hunger and Vulnerability Programme, 1st Floor, 22 Wellington Road, Parktown, Johannesburg 2193, South Africa; Email: tracy@rhvp.org.
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  • Tracy Cull

    Corresponding author
    1. Regional Hunger and Vulnerability Programme, Johannesburg, South Africa
      Katharine Vincent, Regional Hunger and Vulnerability Programme, 1st Floor, 22 Wellington Road, Parktown, Johannesburg 2193, South Africa; Email: katharine@rhvp.org. Tracy Cull, Regional Hunger and Vulnerability Programme, 1st Floor, 22 Wellington Road, Parktown, Johannesburg 2193, South Africa; Email: tracy@rhvp.org.
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  • This article is an extended version of a briefing paper prepared as part of the Regional Hunger and Vulnerability Programme's Frontiers of Social Protection Series (Vincent, 2010). We thank colleagues who commented on that brief: Stephen Devereux, Frank Ellis, Nicholas Freeland, Alec Joubert, Craig Kilfoil, David Porteous and Philip White; and the two reviewers of an earlier draft of this article. Any errors remain the authors' responsibility.

Katharine Vincent, Regional Hunger and Vulnerability Programme, 1st Floor, 22 Wellington Road, Parktown, Johannesburg 2193, South Africa; Email: katharine@rhvp.org. Tracy Cull, Regional Hunger and Vulnerability Programme, 1st Floor, 22 Wellington Road, Parktown, Johannesburg 2193, South Africa; Email: tracy@rhvp.org.

Abstract

Electronic delivery systems for social cash transfer programmes offer advantages to programme implementers and benefit recipients in terms of enhanced cost efficiency and flexibility. The rapid penetration of cell phone infrastructure, combined with a growing interest from banks to extend financial services, is likely to make the electronic delivery of cash transfers an increasingly viable option. Taking into account the broader benefits for cash transfer recipients arising from improved access to financial services infrastructure, this article elaborates recent evidence and experiences from Kenya, Malawi, Namibia and Swaziland. The article concludes with an assessment of the opportunities and challenges for scaling-up electronic delivery systems.

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