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Visa Inc. (NYSE: V), the leading global payments technology company, and NetHope, a consortium of 37 humanitarian organizations, today announced the Visa Innovation Grants program to help modernize humanitarian aid payments. Through this program, Visa is making available $500,000 in grants to humanitarian and development nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to increase the speed, security and long-term impact of aid through the innovation and adoption of electronic payments.

Every year, humanitarian, development and government organizations distribute billions of dollars of cash payments to people in need through benefit stipends, emergency relief payments and other development initiatives. Driven by the need to ensure faster delivery, greater transparency and increased security, these organizations are beginning to shift from distributing physical cash to electronic payments.

However, research by the Cash Learning Partnership has revealed significant obstacles facing organizations trying to make the transition to electronic payments, including technological, operational and attitudinal barriers. While some of these barriers are being overcome through greater knowledge-sharing and an increase in public-private partnerships, the report calls for greater investment in overcoming internal barriers and additional funding for adoption of new technologies.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to use innovation to improve the speed, security and long-term impact of humanitarian and development aid,” said Douglas Sabo, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Visa Inc. “Through the Visa Innovation Grants program, we will support organizations’ efforts to electronify their payments to help improve the lives of those they serve, and we will use the opportunity to bring a more formalized financial service – electronic payments – to the financially underserved.”

An Expert Advisory Committee of distinguished leaders with public and private sector experience will assist in the review of applications. The committee includes:

  • Nabeeha Mujeeb Kazi, Managing Director, Humanitas Global Development
  • Nick Maunder, Humanitarian and Development Consultant
  • Eric Nee, Managing Editor, Stanford Social Innovation Review
  • Sarah Rotman, Financial Sector Specialist, CGAP

“NetHope empowers humanitarian organizations to better serve the developing world through smarter use of technology,” said Dr. William Brindley, NetHope Executive Director and CEO. “The Visa Innovation Grants provide a unique opportunity for NGOs to think creatively and push the technological envelope to explore new approaches to electronify payments and transfers. We are proud to work with a leader like Visa on this effort.”

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