Viewpoints

Visa’s Blog – Visa Viewpoints

PERSPECTIVES ON DIGITAL CURRENCY

Nov 15, 2013

Humanitarian Aid

Visa Responds to Typhoon Haiyan

Visa Inc. today announced a commitment to help the people of the Philippines following the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan. Visa will make a donation of $200,000 to the Red Cross to support relief and recovery efforts. Visa also will match employee donations to Red Cross relief efforts on a two-to-one basis through mid-December.

Further, in conjunction with its clients, Visa will waive interchange fees on donations made through December 31, 2013 to a select group of major U.S.- and Canada-based charities that are providing support to relief efforts. Eligible charities are:

United States

  • American Red Cross
  • AmeriCares
  • CARE
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Mercy Corps
  • Oxfam America
  • Save the Children
  • US Fund for UNICEF
  • World Vision

Canada

  • Canadian Red Cross
  • CARE Canada
  • Humanitarian Coalition Canada
  • Oxfam Canada
  • Oxfam-Quebec
  • Save the Children Canada
  • UNICEF Canada
  • World Vision Canada

Finally, Visa will donate the revenue it generates from eligible contributions to the crisis through December 31, 2013 directly to the Red Cross.

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Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Head of Corporate Philanthropy & Responsibility, Visa Inc. on November 15, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Nov 26, 2012

Sparking Innovation in the Humanitarian and Development Community

Today Visa Inc. and NetHope, a consortium of 37 humanitarian organizations, 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 non-governmental organizations to increase the speed, security and long-term impact of aid and development programs 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. For example, electronic payment distribution enables beneficiaries to use a card or mobile phone to purchase food, buy essential household needs, pay for preventative or emergency health care and obtain other critical needs more efficiently and with greater accountability.

Visa’s Innovation Grants build upon ongoing support of programs that improve and modernize humanitarian aid. For example, after the devastating flooding in Pakistan in 2010, Visa worked with the Government of Pakistan and our financial institution partners to distribute Watan Visa prepaid cards to 2.5 million families to help them purchase items to meet their basic needs. (Read more about Visa’s humanitarian response in Pakistan here). Visa also supports the Cash Learning Partnership, a consortium of humanitarian organizations focused on reducing the time and resources required to distribute relief funds to people impacted by emergencies. (Read more about Visa’s partnership with the Cash Learning Partnership here).

To encourage more innovative thinking in the humanitarian and development communities, we need to unleash better ways to deliver aid. These grants are just one way to spur the innovation needed to continue to bring humanitarian and development aid into the 21st century.

For additional information about Visa and NetHope’s grant program, please read today’s joint press release and joint post on CGAP’s blog.

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Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on November 26, 2012 at 6:58 am

Oct 4, 2012

Better Than Cash Alliance Perspectives: The Development Community

Around the world, 2.5 billion people lack access to formal finan­cial services. As a result, most poor households live almost entirely in a cash economy. Shifting to electronic distribution of social benefits, humanitarian aid or payroll can advance financial inclusion and help poor people build savings while achieving cost savings, efficiency and transparency.

The recent Better Than Cash Alliance launch event gathered together governments, the development community, and the private sector–all aligned around a common goal to shift the world from cash to electronic payments.

We took the opportunity to gather unique perspectives from global leaders tackling this important issue.  The first set of perspectives come from members of the development community, including:

Mercy Corps CEO Neal Keny-Guyer

World Food Programme Executive Director Etharin Cousin

CARE CEO Dr. Helene Gayle

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Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on October 4, 2012 at 1:34 pm

Nov 18, 2011

New Technology to Improve Humanitarian Aid in Emergencies

This week, leading humanitarian organizations are gathering in Nairobi, Kenya, for “Cash Transfer Programming in Emergencies,” the fifth global learning event organized by the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP).

This event brings together humanitarian professionals to share experiences and best practices in delivering cash in emergencies, with a particular focus on the role that new technologies—including digital currency—can play in improving the delivery of money. Technologies like prepaid cards to deliver money to flood victims in Pakistan; money delivered by mobile phone in Haiti for earthquake survivors to pay for recovery work; and codes delivered by mobile phone to use for purchasing food in the Philippines.

Building upon our existing partnership with the CaLP, Visa participated in today’s event to share our experiences and insights in electronifying the distribution of money, both in times of emergency and through non-emergency social development programs, including:

  • In the Dominican Republic, Visa has helped the government’s Social Subsidies Administration electronify the distribution of money through the Solidaridad Visa card, allowing more than 800,000 people to receive critical benefits like unemployment, nutrition assistance, and help for the elderly.
  • In 2010 after catastrophic flooding impacted 20 million people, Visa and our partner financial institutions helped the government of Pakistan deliver emergency cash aid via the Watan Visa prepaid debit card, reaching more than 2 million families and ensuring that flood victims received financial help quickly and securely

As Visa shared today in Nairobi, there are a number of challenges and opportunities to address, including:

  • Infrastructure: advancing the digital currency infrastructure needed to enable electronic delivery of cash ahead of when emergencies occur rather than deploying it during a crisis situation
  • Collaboration: enhancing the collaboration between the global development and humanitarian communities to advance the mutually-beneficial objectives of financial inclusion and enhanced humanitarian support, as well as incorporating a role for the private sector who can help these responses scale and be sustainable
  • Education: ensuring that the beneficiaries of these programs, often unfamiliar with digital currency, receive their benefits along with the education required to understand and use them

As the humanitarian community increases its use of programs that deliver cash in place of physical goods, we are committed to helping this community bring the distribution of aid payments into the 21st century. Because at the end of the day, it is about working together to help those impacted restore their lives.

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Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on November 18, 2011 at 9:19 am

Feb 16, 2011

Delivering Money in Times of Emergency

Today, Visa announced a new partnership with the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP). The CaLP is a consortium of leading humanitarian organizations focused on improving the quality of “cash transfer programming”—the distribution of money to communities in need particularly during times of emergency. The Visa-CaLP partnership, focused on helping humanitarian aid organizations improve the speed and efficiency of relief payments in times of disaster, is part of our Corporate Responsibility commitment to help during times of humanitarian crisis and builds upon Visa’s experience working with governments around the world to disburse benefits—including helping the government of Pakistan distribute over US$317 million to 1.45 million households in three months in the flood-ravaged country.

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Posted by: Douglas Sabo, Visa Corporate Responsibility on February 16, 2011 at 8:13 am