FINANCIAL technology (fintech) firm PayMaya Philippines Inc. announced it recently partnered with the British-based Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (Oxfam) to develop a program that facilitates the disbursement of digital cash transfers to PayMaya accounts by residents of the town of Salcedo, Eastern Samar.
PayMaya Philippines President Shailesh Baidwan said the program uses smart data that functions as an early warning system to enable the recipients to prepare for an incoming disaster.
Baidwan said beneficiaries will use the funds to buy essentials at local PayMaya QR and card-enabled merchants or for telco load and utility bills via the PayMaya app. Moreover, residents can also cash out funds through Smart Padala outlets in their communities.
To claim the cash, a beneficiary of the program needs to show a PayMaya card powered by PayMaya where Oxfam disburses the funds that can be used to prepare for any upcoming disaster in their area.
“During disasters, time is of the essence. People cannot wait. That’s why anticipatory actions are necessary so our people can stockpile essentials and secure their assets,” Salcedo Mayor Melchor L. Mergal was quoted in a statement as saying.
Meanwhile, the barangay captain of Butig, Salcedo, said the community members use the funds to buy rice and other food items amid rising inflation rates.
“Three days before the typhoon comes, we have received the digital cash transfer,” Barangay Captain Eduardo E. Ogalino of Barangay Butig, Salcedo. Ogalino added that community members use the anticipatory relief on rice and other food items before the prices go up.
“Digital cash transfers are more appropriate because the most vulnerable communities do not have access to banks and traditional remittance companies. Everyone owns a phone, making mobile wallets suitable for humanitarian cash disbursement program,” Niña Abogado, senior manager for programs and partnerships of Oxfam’s Philippines operations.
“Using digital cash transfers streamline the system for humanitarian efforts of the government, NGOs [nongovernment organizations] and private sector partners, resulting in a more cost-effective, high impact delivery of aid,” Baidwan said.
“For the beneficiaries, receiving financial assistance directly to their PayMaya accounts gives them the capability to determine how to best use the funds for their own needs. It adds dignity to the social aid process,” he added.
To date, the program, called “Building Resilient Adaptive and Disaster Ready Communities,” has benefitted 1,975 households in Salcedo. Digital cash transfers are a central part of the intervention, but it is not the only component. Oxfam calls it the project that “bridges the gap between typhoon preparedness and financial inclusion.”
“The most vulnerable do not have formal bank accounts, so we integrate financial literacy in our program,” Abogado said in Pilipino.
According to PayMaya, the program was crafted after the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda. It’s an initiative that combines disaster preparedness, weather forecasting and financial technology.