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Visa Inc. (NYSE:V), the global payments technology company, and NetHope, a consortium of more than 40 humanitarian organizations, today announced the five recipients of the Visa Innovation Grants Program. The grants will help leading development organizations modernize the distribution of payments related to microfinance, agriculture, health, and emergency relief.

Every year, billions of dollars in cash payments are distributed to people in need through emergency relief efforts, benefit stipends, conditional cash transfers, microfinance programs, and other development initiatives. Digitizing these payments, through mobile phones or other electronic methods, not only improves security and speeds distribution, it also can promote financial inclusion by providing recipients access to broader financial services, including savings and electronic payments tools.

The group of five grantee organizations includes: Agribusiness Systems International (ASI), Freedom from Hunger, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Mercy Corps, and Pathfinder International.

“Around the world, humanitarian and development organizations are delivering important programs that are tackling poverty and helping improve lives,” said Douglas Sabo ( @DSabo), head of Corporate Responsibility at Visa Inc. “We have heard the call from these organizations for assistance to modernize the way they distribute funds by shifting to electronic payments, allowing them to be even more efficient and effective. We are proud the Visa Innovation Grants Program can help enable this transition.”

Through the Visa Innovation Grants Program, Visa is awarding $500,000 in grants to increase the long-term impact of development programs through the innovation and adoption of electronic payments. The program is being delivered in partnership with NetHope, which fosters collaboration among leading international humanitarian organizations to address, create and implement scalable technology solutions to aid the developing world.

“We received submissions for Visa Innovation Grants from organizations working in a wide variety of sectors around the world, all of which are seeking better ways to deliver funds to the people who need them,” said Dr. William Brindley, executive director and CEO of NetHope. “The transition to electronic payments is an important driver of social and economic development, and we’re excited to be part of a program that is helping to create new models for the future.”

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