Last month Mastercard Worldwide and the World Food Program (WFP) announced a global partnership in “digital food”. The public-private partnership aims to harness Mastercard’s expertise in electronic payments to develop WFP’s electronic voucher programs. Can it work?
There are good reasons to think that “going cashless” could make WFP’s operations more efficient and improve people’s lives. But the benefits are far from certain, and WFP and Mastercard would do well to ensure rigorous evaluation of what amounts to a giant experiment (about which, more below).
Voucher programs in high-income countries (like US food stamps) are often electronic. But in developing countries with little financial infrastructure, these programs often require distributing paper vouchers to recipients in remote rural areas.
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