Case Study

Cheaper, Faster, Better? A Case Study of New Technologies in Cash Transfers from the Democratic Republic of Congo

Comparing the efficiency of different cash transfer mechanisms
Download43 pages

This study compares three different cash transfer mechanisms used in a humanitarian program funded by the DFID in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): physical cash, electronic vouchers, and mobile money. It estimates the differences in cost and time required to deliver cash assistance through these three different mechanisms and also studies users' experience with electronic transfers in the DRC. The research was conducted between October 2013 and June 2014 when more than 3,355 individuals received assistance from MercyCorps through either of the three transfer mechanisms. Hence, the study provides an ideal opportunity to directly compare the time and cost efficiency of cash transfer mechanisms used in the same program during the same period. Key findings of the study include:

  • E-vouchers were the most expensive way to deliver assistance, mobile money was the next most expensive, and cash was the least expensive when measured by cost per transfer and when transfer values are standardized;
  • Mobile money was by far the slowest mechanism to set-up while e-vouchers and cash were quicker to deploy;
  • E-transfers required more time from recipients than physical cash, reducing time available for other productive and leisure activities.

About this Publication

By Murray, S. , Hove, F.