Mastercard and Western Union are set to digitize refugee’s access to goods, services and finances within refugee settlements around the world targeting over 65 million displaced from their homes due to political conflict and natural disasters.
The aim is to enable refugees, their host communities and donors to send and receive funds digitally, allowing for more transparency and long-term empowerment of refugees.
“Today’s camps were not built to sustain a global refugee crisis of this magnitude,” said Tara Nathan, executive vice president of public-private partnerships at Mastercard. “Our plans to reinvent the existing model can help the world’s refugee populations achieve self-sufficiency faster, while also contributing to the economic growth of their host communities.”
The report Smart Communities: Using Digital Technology to Create Sustainable Refugee Economies, aims to make remittances, banking, education, healthcare and other basic needs digitized and available for refugees.
Maureen Sigliano, head of customer relationship management at Western Union said,“The new digital infrastructure model would focus on solutions that might include the delivery of mobile money, digital vouchers, prepaid cards, and track other goods and services. The goal is to drive personal empowerment, stimulate growth and promote social cohesion among the world’s refugee populations, while driving better governance and transparency.”
The Mastercard and Western Union blueprint aims to lay the groundwork for a set of multipurpose transactional tools that refugees and residents can access, which are optimized to work in low infrastructure areas. The move also aim to give residents greater control over their livelihoods, well-being, and dignity, while providing agencies access to data that informs community planning and development.
The digital platform would serve as a unique identifier for both local and refugee populations, advancing the critical goals of social cohesion and cooperation across the settlement and encourage adoption of digital payments as an entry point to the formal financial system and can be extended to incorporate a wider set of use cases.