Mobile money helping displaced migrants
As the world is facing its largest refugee crisis in 20 years, mobile wallets and the ability to transfer money to migrant people on the move has become a lifeline for refugees. ThatÔÇÖs why financial and money transfer brands are constantly innovating online and mobile payment methods that can bring much-needed financial services to excluded audiences.
HereÔÇÖs the context: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has the total number of displaced people worldwide at 15.1 million. Nearly half of these refugees come from Syria and Afghanistan. They might not have cash, bank cards or even identification papers, but they do have mobile devices capable of receiving and spending money.
The development of mobile technology has presented opportunities to use mobile phones for financial transfers. Money transfer services that use simple handsets as a platform have exploded in popularity in developing countries. In fact, mobile money solutions have evolved to suit even the most basic phones. If a handset can text, it can use mobile money technology.
This sort of digital transfer can be a very welcome resource in disaster situations. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, mobile money services were widely used (by individuals and organisations) to provide aid to those affected.
Here are some advantages that mobile payments deliver for displaced people:
Easy access: Mobile payments just need a SIM. And anecdotal accounts from Syrian refugees making their way through different countries show that they buy a new SIM in each country they get to, and use the phone to locate themselves, and access basic services.
Cross-border capabilities: Mobile money systems can be far more integrated and reliable during cross-border travels than banks and ATMs. The account information and transaction history linked to a SIM card can be used to establish identity when traditional documents are not available.
Security on the move: Mobile money transfers are secure and can be accessed in any country. Sometimes one money transfer can be shared between many different people in a community on the move. Women especially feel safer when they have access to secure financial transfers- they donÔÇÖt have to carry cash, and they can choose safe locations to access their money.
Electronic payments have become an increasingly usual way of assisting refugees- even by NGOs. When displaced people have access to funds they are empowered. If refugees and their families are going to be displaced long term, it becomes even more important for them to be able to manage their money in a safe and secure way. For money transfer brands, this is a huge opportunity to innovate life-changing and inclusive mobile payment solutions.