Mercy Corps and sQuid launch smartcard aid payments programme in Democratic Republic of the Congo
Mercy Corps, the leading global humanitarian agency, is using contactless smartcard and payments technology to launch a new aid programme in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The programme will help people recently displaced by conflict, returnees, host communities and people living in areas which have recently experienced violence. Each beneficiary household will be issued with a contactless card through which money is distributed for use at merchants.
The system is provided by sQuid, the UK-based electronic money (e-money) issuer. The company operates through its own smartcards and payment terminals to present an end-to-end solution, built on internet technologies. Electronic value is sent to the smartcard via the terminal, enabling local collection and spend without the need for “always on” internet connection. sQuid users do not need a bank account.
The Mercy Corps programme will reach thousands of households in conflict-affected areas of eastern Congo, and is supported by UK Government's Department for International Development (DFID) and MasterCard Worldwide, with coordination support from UNICEF.
Commenting on the initiative with sQuid, Sara Murray, Electronic Payments Programme Manager at Mercy Corps, said:
“Providing cash ensures families can purchase exactly what they need to get back on their feet, and using smartcard technology helps us closely monitor and automate some aspects of aid distribution. We selected sQuid because it is one of the few electronic payment technologies that can operate without power and in the absence of internet or mobile networks. The smartcard system is also accessible for vendors and beneficiaries with low literacy levels.”
Adam Smith, CEO of sQuid, added:
“sQuid will help to make sure that those in need of aid receive money directly and securely. We have been working closely with the aid sector in the last two years, following a successful test programme in Northern Kenya in 2012. sQuid will be supporting Mercy Corps from London and from our base in Nairobi. We are developing further aid initiatives, particularly in Africa.”
Notes to Editors
About Mercy Corps
Mercy Corps is a leading global humanitarian agency saving and improving lives in the world’s toughest places. With a network of experienced professionals in more than 40 countries, Mercy Corp partners with local communities to put bold ideas into action to help people recover, overcome hardship and build better lives.
SQUIDCARD LIMITED (“sQuid”) is a UK-based, FCA certified eMoney service operator. sQuid has built an end-to-end technology platform, and a supporting business model, for creating, processing and settling electronic transactions using proprietary technologies.
sQuid Africa operations are based in Nairobi, Kenya. sQuid has deployed a successful aid management programme with SOS Children’s Villages and is approved by the Kenya Higher Education Loans Board for the distribution of bursary funds.