Shortening the path between troubled populations and the aid they need.
MasterCard is making it easier for charities to get help quickly to the people who really need it, and ensure that donations are actually being used for good. The MasterCard Aid Network, launched last September, distributes a version of the company’s plastic cards (similar to a gift or prepaid card) that come loaded with points that can be redeemed at certain merchants for groceries, medicine, shelter and even building materials or business supplies. The chip-enabled system can be deployed in a day or two compared to the weeks required to create and import paper vouchers.
The system doesn’t require an Internet connection—a boon in off-the-grid areas where many refugees and disaster victims are concentrated. Still, the transactions enable organizations to collect data on what card recipients redeem, allowing charities to protect against fraudulent use and gather insight into beneficiaries’ needs.
So far, organizations including Save the Children, World Vision and Mercy Corps have distributed cards to more than 75,000 people, from earthquake victims in Nepal to those in war-torn Yemen. MasterCard, which charges the charities fees for the service, says the program is profitable. The United Nations also recently named MasterCard the leader of an initiative to improve the distribution of humanitarian aid in emergencies, with a focus on the data management and privacy aspect.
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