Biometric-enabled cash delivery in Egypt
Submitted by: Neveen El Husseiny, Minister Plenipotentiary, Head of Migration, Refugees and Combating Human Trafficking Unit, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Egypt
Email: [email protected]
Introduction to the project
Arab Republic of Egypt
The project started in May 2017.
The project is expected to continue in 2020 and scale up in the future years, pending support from the international community.
A common platform is used by humanitarian agencies with the National Post Authority to deliver assistance to refugees using biometrics (iris scanning).
The project aims to achieve the following objectives:
- Enhanced humanitarian assistance coordination through common delivery platforms;
- Improved authentication of cash recipients and reduced risks of diversion of assistance thus attracting donor funding/support; and
- Limited instances of duplication of assistance to ensure humanitarian or development support is effective and efficient.
The Government of Egypt facilitated the process of installation through the National Post Authority. The National Post Authority also adapted its payment systems countrywide to support this initiative.
- National Post Authority (Egypt Post)
- Information Technology & Services Co.
- Plan International in Egypt
- Catholic Relief Services
Challenges and how they were overcome
The National Post Authority has over 4,000 branches countrywide. At this point, the project is limited only to 54 branches. Additional funding to the National Post Authority and humanitarian agencies is required to scale up this project.
Humanitarian agencies have installed the scanners in the areas with the highest number of refugees. However, there remains need to cover more areas.
Results of the Good Practice
The project ensures accountability to recipients of humanitarian assistance by ensuring they access assistance that is due to them, without diversion to other non-entitled persons.
The project allows refugees and asylum-seekers’ efficient use of resources among humanitarian actors by reducing the risk of duplication of efforts, given that a common delivery platform is utilized.
The project allows refugees to access their assistance (through biometric verification) while processing the renewal of their identity documents with UNHCR. This system leverages biometrics to verify the identity of recipients.
How the project meets the GCR Objectives
The project has the potential to be adapted, replicated, and/or broadened in scale, particularly in relation to other forms of development assistance and the national social safety net program.
As this project entails the humanitarian sector working towards a common cash delivery platform, this is expected to result in an effective and efficient use of resources.
The project brings together a national institution, private sector, UN Agencies and NGOs. This reflects a broadening of stakeholders and actors who can support refugees and national systems.
Ultimately, experience derived from utilizing biometrics for payment authentication is a possible enabler to financial inclusion, which is a key Government of Egypt’s strategic priority for unbanked and underbanked populations in Egypt.
The humanitarian aspect of this project will continue in 2020 and with additional support can be scaled up to authenticate payments for recipients of all cash transfers in Egypt, including pensions and, possibly, the national social safety net program.