SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 16, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Visa Inc. (NYSE:V), the global payments technology leader, and the Cash Learning Partnership, a consortium of leading humanitarian aid organizations, today announced a new partnership aimed at making the distribution of money to individuals -- or cash transfers -- in disaster relief faster, more effective and more secure. Beginning with a focus project in the Philippines, the partnership will support the development of knowledge and tools that will help humanitarian organizations deliver relief funds quickly and efficiently to people affected by natural disasters and other emergencies. The partnership also will promote knowledge-sharing with the broader humanitarian community through the development of trainings, case studies and other resources.
In times of disaster, humanitarian organizations perform detailed needs assessments in order to inform disaster response and early recovery efforts. These assessments increasingly are including consideration of the capacity of local markets to meet the needs of people impacted by crisis. When local market conditions allow, more and more relief agencies are choosing to deliver money rather than physical goods to those affected, allowing people to buy what they need while at the same time supporting the local economy.
The Cash Learning Partnership, a consortium formed after the 2005 southeast Asia tsunami and whose Steering Committee includes Oxfam Great Britain, the British Red Cross, Save the Children, Action Against Hunger | ACF International and the Norwegian Refugee Council, is focused on improving the quality of programs whose approach includes the use of cash transfers whether in physical cash, paper voucher or digital currency form, such as through prepaid cards.
"Humanitarian agencies understand that in many crisis situations today, local markets are still able to function and provide goods like food, shelter materials and other items to meet people's basic needs," says steering committee member Silke Pietzsch, Senior Food Security and Livelihoods Advisorat Action Against Hunger | ACF International. "Providing people with monetary assistance helps preserve their dignity and gives people the flexibility to purchase exactly what they need, when they need it. But setting up delivery mechanisms for money in emergency settings can be complex and time-consuming. This project aims to bring speed, security and efficiency to the disbursement of money in times of crisis, and, by doing so, to increase our preparedness for disasters."
The Visa/Cash Learning Partnership collaboration will rely on the experience and expertise of each organization to support cash transfer programming in the Philippines -- a country typically at-risk for natural disasters each year.
The Cash Learning Partnership will provide a platform for coordination, research and knowledge-sharing as well as aim for high-level cooperation around cash transfer programs among humanitarian, private sector, United Nations and government representatives. With a staff member based permanently in the Philippines, the Cash Learning Partnership also will provide training, manage the process of developing tools and operational plans for cash transfers, document lessons learned and share results with the broader humanitarian aid community as part of capacity-building efforts.
Visa's role includes providing subject matter expertise on how to use prepaid cards and other forms of digital currency to deliver payments to people in a timely, secure and scalable manner. The project will leverage Visa's experience working with governments around the world to disburse benefit payments, including through 80 disbursement programs in 40 states in the United States. Most recently, Visa partnered with the government of Pakistan and financial institutions to launch the Watan Visa prepaid debit card program to help millions impacted by catastrophic flooding. In approximately three months, the program distributed more than US $300 million in relief payments to 1.45 million households in Pakistan, one of the fastest rollouts of a disbursement program of this kind.
"We see this collaboration with the Cash Learning Partnership as an opportunity to bring our products, services and payments expertise to a greater cause of helping those in need during humanitarian crises," said Brian Triplett, Head of Global Prepaid Products, Visa Inc. "Through our work with government disbursement programs, we see the challenges and opportunities of delivering benefits payments to millions. With the use of digital currency, we also see this as an 'inclusion moment' -- the chance to help those often underserved by financial services begin to have access to financial tools."
Visa also is providing financial support to the project, including funding the key research into mechanisms for cash transfer programming when disasters happen in urban areas.
About the Cash Learning Partnership
Originating from the will to gather the lessons learnt from the Tsunami emergency response in 2005, the CaLP is today composed by Oxfam GB, the British Red Cross, Save the Children, Action Against Hunger/ACF International and the Norwegian Refugee Council. The five steering committee organizations have come together to support capacity building, research and information-sharing on cash transfer programming as an effective tool to help deliver aid in times of crisis.
About Visa Inc.
Visa is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable digital currency. Underpinning digital currency is one of the world's most advanced processing networks --VisaNet -- that is capable of handling more than 20,000 transaction messages a second, with fraud protection for consumers and guaranteed payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Visa's innovations, however, enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: pay now with debit, ahead of time with prepaid or later with credit products. For more information, visit https://www.corporate.visa.com.
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SOURCE: Visa Inc.