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World Humanitarian Summit: FinTech Innovation For Disaster Relief

World Humanitarian Summit: FinTech Innovation For Disaster Relief

Editor's note:  Today we feature a post from Ericsson's mobile financial services blog by Goran Loracic, Head of Solutions, Ericsson Mobile Financial Services.

Emerging ICT solutions are transforming countless areas of our society. While digital innovation has traditionally been leveraged within financial services to increase efficiency and profitability, things are changing: we can use financial technology – FinTech – to improve disaster relief and other humanitarian aid.

The financing of humanitarian efforts and, specifically, the distribution of funds in times of crisis are ripe for improvement. And this is arguably what FinTech does best. “The machinery of humanitarian aid is not only broke — but, according to many critics, also broken,” claims The New York Times in an article about this week’s United Nations-sponsored World Humanitarian Summit.

The Summit, held May 23-24, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey, is the site of the launch of the Connecting Business Initiative – a multi-stakeholder initiative led by the UNISDR, OCHA and UNDP. With a focus on disaster risk reduction, emergency preparedness, response and recovery, Connecting Business aims to support the creation and strengthening of effective models for public-private partnerships and business engagement, and to scale and replicate those models in high-risk countries and regions.

This is where Ericsson comes in. We’ve been looking for ways to adapt mobile financial services to support emergency relief since 2010, when disaster struck in Haiti – in a country severely lacking in financial infrastructure. Inspired by the introduction of mobile money following the devastating earthquake that year, we have been working to develop ways to channel cash transfers via digital means to make sure financial aid gets from the donor to the right beneficiary in the most streamlined, transparent and cost-efficient manner possible.

Part of our participation at the World Humanitarian Summit is to announce our commitment to developing Ericsson Emergency Wallet, which builds on our Technology for Good and Ericsson Response initiatives as well as our long experience of developing scalable mobile financial service solutions. The solution design and prototyping is co-funded via the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Level One Project.

Among the issues being discussed at the World Humanitarian Summit are ways to adapt “new approaches to respond to protracted crises and recurrent disasters, reduce vulnerability, and manage risk, by bridging the divide between development and humanitarian partners” and “securing adequate and predictable finance to save lives and alleviate suffering.”

Ericsson Emergency Wallet is going to be an impactful solution to these issues. In the short term, the wallet will bring relief to those affected when a country’s financial infrastructure is left inaccessible. In the long term, end users and NGOs can continue use digital financial services even after the emergency to avoid reliance on traditional means of distributing funds. This will help make sure they are covered in case disaster strikes again and lead to broad financial inclusion.

What do you think? Share your thoughts about FinTech disrupting the distribution of humanitarian aid in the comments section below.

Download the Ericsson Emergency Wallet press release

You can read the original post here: http://www.ericsson.com/m-commerce/blog/world-humanitarian-summit-fintech-innovation-disaster-relief

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