Better Than Cash

 

OVERVIEW 
 
As a founding member of the “Better Than Cash Alliance,” the Government of Afghanistan is committed to reduce cash payments in favor of electronic transfer payments for government salaries and services. Building upon this commitment, USAID has a unique opportunity to increase access to financial services for the unbanked majority and build transparency into the financial system through the use of electronic payments.  As of December 2013, approximately 20 percent of the adult population have bank accounts and two thirds of the adult population are mobile phone users.  Developments in mobile money, branchless banking, and electronic payments offer new and innovative means to integrate urban and rural Afghans into the formal economy.  Through grants to the private sector, USAID fostered operational mobile money platforms in three of the four major mobile network operators, all of which are integrated with formal banks.  With USAID support, these technologies are expected to increase access to efficient, transparent and low-cost alternatives to cash, while also rooting out corruption, improving governance, and undercutting financial threats to security.  USAID is working closely with our public and private partners to help educate consumers and explore ways to scale up these promising technologies. In 2013, USAID will expand its financial work to develop the electronic payment ecosystem including mobile money and card based payments. 
 
CURRENT ACTIVITIES 
  • Promote an industry-led approach to building up the electronic payment ecosystem.
  • Foster public-private partnerships through the private mobile network operators and banks to develop a unified approach to developing the electronic payments sector. 
  • Continue educating consumers about the benefits of mobile money, branchless banking, and electronic payments and help develop a reliable national network of mobile money outlets to meet growing demand. 
  • Support close collaboration with the Afghan Government and the Afghanistan Payment System to bring greater transparency and efficiency to the financial system. 
 
ACCOMPLISHMENTS 
  • Established the Mobile Money Innovation Grant Fund managed by the Financial Access for Investing in the Development of Afghanistan (FAIDA) program which led to operational mobile money platforms in three of the major mobile network operators, all of which are integrated with formal banks. 
  • Implemented a teacher salary payment pilot which demonstrated how nearly 1 million Afghan Government employees can securely and efficiently receive their full salaries nationwide. 
  • Implemented an electricity utility payment pilot which demonstrated how Afghans can pay their monthly bill and save time and money by avoiding standing in long lines or hiring brokers. 
  • Assisted GIROA convert to electronic payments through cooperative negotiations with banks.

Last updated: December 30, 2013

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