• USAID helps NGO in mobile banking

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    A nongovernment organization (NGO) from the Philippines has received a grant from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and NetHope to evaluate mobile banking platform in its microfinance program.

    Specializing in microfinance, the Alalay Sa Kaunlaran Inc. (ASKI) was chosen as one of the organizations to receive a grant from USAID and NetHope on the Electronic and Mobile Payment Implementation and Evaluation Grants Program.

    A grant of $42,000 will be awarded by USAID and NetHope to the selected organizations like ASKI to demonstrate the potential uses of electronic payments in relief and development programs, provide insights into procedures for making this transition, and encourage the adoption of electronic payments by other implementing partners.

    For its part, ASKI will use the grant to evaluate mobile banking platform implemented in partnership with the Philippine’s first mobile phone-based, microfinance-focused bank—BPI Globe BanKo.

    In 2012, ASKI and BanKo entered into an agreement to introduce mobile banking platform in its micro-agri loans for rice farmers, which was pilot-tested with rice farmers receiving a crop management recommendation from Rice Crop Manager to increase their rice yield and profit.

    The Rice Crop Manager is a web-based tool developed to provide rice farmers with a fertilizer recommendation precisely matching the nutrient needs of their crop.
    ASKI will document the continued expansion of its transition of loan disbursements from check (a cash-based platform) to mobile, cash-less platform not only for the farmers but also to other microentrepreneurs.

    “Since the implementation of the program, there has been no comparative study conducted to look into the benefits of going from cash-based to cashless transactions,” Rolando Victoria, ASKI executive director, said.

    ASKI is the only organization in Southeast Asia to receive and implement the USAID and NetHope project, which aimed at supporting the leading development organizations committed to testing electronic payments, compare and document the costs, challenges and benefits of using cash versus electronic payments.

    “Whether organizations are transitioning their payment streams for internal operational expenses like staff per diems or local suppliers, or for program clients in health, agriculture or microfinance, it’s an important first step toward promoting financial inclusion,” Frank Schott, interim president and executive director of NetHope, said.

    NetHope Inc. is a consortium of 41 leading international humanitarian organizations founded in 2001, while USAID is the principal US federal government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid, providing economic, development and humanitarian assistance around the world in support of the foreign policy goals of the United States.

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