When Mariam, a Syrian refugee, enters the Western Union location just outside of Tripoli, Lebanon, she isn’t walking into a typical money exchange. Instead, she is entering one of thousands of locations across the globe enabled with Western Union’s NGO GlobalPay product, through which NGOs can move cash efficiently and directly to those in need. For Mariam, who fled Syria several months ago, the decrease in wait times and direct cash-in-hand delivered through a partnership with Oxfam makes all the difference as she struggles to survive displaced from her home.
Western Union’s NGO GlobalPay product – announced at the 2012 CGI Annual Meeting as part of two-year commitment – is a dedicated financial platform designed to meet the international payment needs of NGOs and the people they serve. For NGOs this means getting money to staff in the field and direct payments to recipients, quickly and efficiently across borders and in regions where critical financial infrastructure may be lacking. With this product, we aimed to help our NGO partners address common financial challenges: limited pay-out options, lack of transparency and multiple currency management. It also gives the key benefit of supporting emergency cash and ongoing bank-to-bank payments within one application keeping things simple and efficient for NGOs. With NGO GlobalPay, they can spend less time focused on executing payments and disbursements and more time focused on their mission.
Since December 2012, we have offered NGO GlobalPay as a service pilot to various NGOs, including Oxfam, Save the Children and Aid Still Required, providing necessary aid to thousands of people in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East. In doing so, we’ve helped NGOs overcome the “last mile” – that last gap between the product and the end user that is so often the toughest hurdle in the disbursement of resources in the developing world and particularly under conditions of humanitarian crises.
Thus far, working with NGOs like Oxfam, Save the Children and Aid Still Required, we’ve directly impacted 15,000 lives and exposed 900 NGO professionals to skills-based professional training programs around the globe in our first year. And in just this quarter alone, NGO GlobalPay was used to deliver more than 3,000 payments to over 1,800 Syrian refugees in Lebanon through Oxfam.
To fully bring our commitment into force by 2014, we’ll continue to increase the number of countries to which NGO GlobalPay is able to send cash payments – from 59 to 189 countries by the end of the year. We’re also expanding our technology to mobile wallet payments in 11 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, allowing recipients, especially those who may face difficulties travelling, to receive funds directly to a mobile phone. Lastly, we will also include enhanced reporting capabilities that will allow NGOs to track when each payment is delivered, and where, allowing full reporting transparency for every transaction they send.
As we move forward, our goal continues to be to provide a payment platform that gives NGOs speed, accountability and flexibility so they can get funds to the people who need it most in the fastest, most fitting way possible. We understand the need to support NGOs and their missions in every corner of the globe – in regions where financial infrastructure is limited or non-existent, NGO GlobalPay will be able to improve the work of NGOs and the lives of the people they serve.
That is why we are continuing to harness the reach we have across the globe and innovate improvements and new solutions like NGO GlobalPay – touching more people with more products and helping to spur economic growth in our communities.