Cheaper, Better, Faster?

Oct 23, 2014 | by Mercy Corps

This study compares three different cash transfer mechanisms used in one humanitarian program in the
Democratic Republic of Congo: physical cash, electronic vouchers, and mobile money. The study set out to answer:

  • What are the differences in cost and time required to deliver cash assistance through these
    three different mechanisms in the DRC?
  • How do electronic transfers (e-vouchers and mobile money) affect the user experience in
    the DRC?

The research took place between October 2013 and June 2014 as part of an existing humanitarian program. As part of the study, 3,355 individuals received assistance from Mercy Corps in the form of electronic vouchers (e-vouchers), mobile money or physical cash. While previous research has been conducted to understand the cost efficiency of e-transfers, it has often relied on comparisons between programs operated by different organizations at different scales and in different contexts. Mercy Corps’ study provides an opportunity to directly compare the time and cost efficiency of cash transfer mechanisms used in the same program during the same period. The study’s findings are separated into three distinct areas: cost to deliver assistance, time to deliver assistance, and user experience.

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