FinTech Innovation For Disaster Relief

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 FinTech innovation to improve disaster relief and other humanitarian aid.

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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 last year’s United Nations-sponsored World Humanitarian Summit.

The Summit, held last May in Istanbul, Turkey, was 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 was 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 discussed at the World Humanitarian Summit were 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.”

Download the Ericsson Emergency Wallet press release

Share your thoughts about FinTech innovation disrupting the distribution of humanitarian aid in the comments section below.

This post was first published on the Ericsson’s Mobile Financial Services blog and authored by Goran Loncaric.

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