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24 September 2012

Ford Foundation Co-Founds Better Than Cash Alliance

New York, 24 September 2012 — The Ford Foundation announced its partnership in founding the Better Than Cash Alliance, an initiative launched jointly with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citi, Omidyar Network, USAID, U.N. Capital Development Fund and Visa Inc.

The Better Than Cash Alliance works with governments, the development community and the private sector to adopt the use of electronic payments and provides resources to those who commit to make the transition. The Alliance has the potential to play a critical role in advancing democratic and accountable government, economic fairness and financial inclusion.

Already, the governments of Peru, Kenya, Colombia and the Philippines—along with development organizations USAID, the United Nations Development Program, the World Food Program, Mercy Corps, CARE USA and Concern Worldwide—have committed to digitize their disbursements and payments to people living in poverty, thereby becoming eligible for technical and financial support from the Better Than Cash Alliance.

Better Than Cash Alliance panel Panelists at a Ford convening (from left to right): H.R.H. Princess Máxima of the Netherlands, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development; Carolina Trivelli, Minister, Development and Social Inclusion, Peru; Florencio Abad, Budget Secretary, Department of Budget and Management, Philippines; Dr. Geoffrey Mwau, Economic Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Kenya; and Matthew Bishop, U.S. Business Editor and New York Bureau Chief, The Economist (Moderator)

Some 2.6 billion people live on less than $2 USD per day, and 90 percent of them lack access to established financial services. As a result, most poor households have no option but to subsist in a cash-only economy, making it extraordinarily difficult for them to open and maintain checking and savings accounts, build assets or get credit. By creating opportunities to access financial services, begin to develop assets and save for the future, electronic payments can deliver lasting benefits.

“We believe technology is a central tool in our collective efforts to broaden economic, social and political opportunity to even the poorest and most marginalized people,” said Luis Ubiñas, president of the Ford Foundation. “Moving the public, private and development sector from cash to electronic payments is the first step in helping families not only to gain access to a formal financial system, but to save and build permanent financial assets.”

The shift to electronic payments in programs that currently distribute cash or in-kind goods to people living in poverty can also result in significant cost savings, transparency, security and economic growth.

Better Than Cash Alliance demoA demo of how the implementation of innovative payment technology such as this electronic payment system could further benefit low-income consumers than cash payment plans.

Across the globe, governments, the private sector and the development community make billions of cash payments to people living in poverty, including disbursements of salaries, payments to vendors, pensions, social welfare stipends, cash-for-work programs and emergency relief payments. According to new research commissioned by the Better Than Cash Alliance, these programs can play a pivotal role in driving a strategic shift to electronic payments.

To access the allaince’s report on electronic payments, “The Journey Toward ‘Cash Lite’: Addressing Poverty, Saving Money and Increasing Transparency by Accelerating the Shift to Electronic Payments,” visit:

About the Better Than Cash Alliance

The Better Than Cash Alliance partners with governments, the development community and the private sector to empower people by shifting from cash to electronic payments. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citi, Ford Foundation, Omidyar Network, USAID and Visa Inc. founded the Alliance, and The U.N. Capital Development Fund serves as its secretariat. To learn more, visit and follow @BetterThan_Cash

The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than 75 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

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