Digital Economy Observatory

Media Monitor

Digital Economy Observatory

Media Monitor

19 December 2022
Next Generation government-to-person (G2P) Payments : Building Blocks of a Modern G2P Architecture (2022) As we move into an increasingly digital world, governments across the globe are leveraging new technologies to deliver services better, faster, and more transparently. Globally, over a quarter of adults are receiving payments from the government whether through public sector wages, pensions, sectoral subsidies, or social protection programs, an increase of 400 million from just four years earlier. The increasing scale of these government-to-person (G2P) payments offers a huge opportunity to advance financial inclusion, advance women’s economic empowerment, and promote the development of the digital ecosystem. This report is a reference document to be consulted by governments and those advising policy makers when considering, designing and implementing digital government-to-person (G2P) payments. It provides a framework for a modern G2P architecture which can support long-term development outcomes through the digitalization of G2P payments.

14 November 2022
India: From digitisation to platformisation — how social protection schemes can be made more accessible (31.11.2022) Social Protection Open Digital Ecosystems (SP-ODEs) can provide beneficiaries, government and service providers a unified, digital platform to better access welfare schemes.

8 November 2022
Digitizing cash transfers to remote rural populations: challenges and solutions from the experience of Zambia (30.09.2022) There is currently a major focus on digitization within African countries, with the interest of, on the one hand, increasing efficiency and lowering the cost-of-service delivery, and on the other hand, increasing financial inclusion for excluded parts of the population. Zambia provides an important case study of digitization of social protection transfers. Whilst Zambia is sparsely populated with remote rural populations often living up to 100 km from the nearest town, making beneficiaries hard to reach with digital services, the country has successfully demonstrated that cash transfers can be digitized for remote rural populations to varying extents, tailored to their particular context. This Discussion Note presents challenges faced and solutions found in digitizing cash transfer payments in Zambia, which may be of interest to other countries embarking on similar endeavors

1 November 2022
US: Using artificial intelligence to identify administrative errors in unemployment insurance

Government Information Quarterly  (October 2022) Administrative errors in unemployment insurance (UI) decisions give rise to a public values conflict between efficiency and efficacy. We analyze whether artificial intelligence (AI) – in particular, methods in machine learning (ML) – can be used to detect administrative errors in UI claims decisions, both in terms of accuracy and normative tradeoffs. We use 16 years of US Department of Labor audit and policy data on UI claims to analyze the accuracy of 7 different random forest and deep learning models. We further test weighting schemas and synthetic data approaches to correcting imbalances in the training data. A random forest model using gradient descent boosting is more accurate, along several measures, and preferable in terms of public values, than every deep learning model tested. Adjusting model weights produces significant recall improvements for low-n outcomes, at the expense of precision. Synthetic data produces attenuated improvements and drawbacks relative to weights.

18 October 2022
The Role of Digital in the COVID-19 Social Assistance Response (2022) The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in vast numbers of people in need of social assistance, many of whom were not previously covered by social safety nets. To meet this unprecedented level of need, governments quickly scaled social assistance reaching over 1.7 billion people in low- and middle income countries. Scaling up social assistance presented two separate but related challenges: first, adapting targeting and registration to reach individuals not commonly included in social assistance databases, such as urban informal workers, and second, how to deliver government to person (G2P) payments safely and securely in the context of the pandemic. Countries that could leverage pre-pandemic investments in digital public infrastructure (DPI)— identification (ID), payments and trusted data sharing—were better able to implement COVID-response social assistance programs and reach more beneficiaries. This paper, analyzes the role of these DPIs, also called digital stack, in the social protection response to COVID by analyzing data on howCOVID-response social assistance programs register red and made payments to beneficiaries across178 programs across 85 countries. The analysis shows how these digital systems and infrastructure allowed for innovative targeting, registration, and payment approaches that covered a significantportion of the population. This paper uses administrative data on G2P registration and payment methods combined with anecdotal evidence from country case studies to show how pre-pandemic investments in digital databases, digital ID, and digital payments impacted countries’ abilities to reach new beneficiaries and deliver payments safely in the context of the pandemic response. It further details workaround solutions implemented by countries without these assets and infrastructure in place, and how some countries were able to expand their digital infrastructure even amidst the urgency of the crisis response. The analysis concludes with suggestions as to the impact that the social assistance response to COVID-19 can have on the future of social protection payments, in terms of inspiring investments in building and strengthening G2P ecosystems globally.

17 October 2022
The COVID-19 crisis showed the future of G2P payments should be digital. Here's why (03.10.2022) The COVID-19 crisis highlighted how digital public infrastructure (DPI) can play a critical role for governments to deliver social assistance quickly and safely.  DPI not only allowed governments to reach an unprecedented number of new beneficiaries, it also allowed them to make payments to them remotely. This brought millions of people into the social protection and financial system for the first time. Countries now have the opportunity to learn from, and build on, these experiences to implement G2P (government-to-people) payment ecosystems that are efficient, responsive and inclusive.

10 October 2022
Access to Welfare in the Digital Economy in BRICS Countries (22.09.2022) Many governments now use digital technology for means testing. For instance, the US uses an Income Eligibility Verification System that links several databases to verify beneficiary income. It also uses a Prisoner Verification System linked to prisoners’ databases to exclude prisoners from benefits. In Sweden, municipal personal social services use Robot Process Automation to make some decisions about eligibility.  Automated means testing and other automation of welfare have been on the rise in BRICS countries, helmed in particular by digital identity systems. The following paragraphs take a look at each BRICS country’s digital ID system and its relation to welfare.

19 September 2022
Transparency, exclusion and mediation: how digital and biometric technologies are transforming social protection in Tamil Nadu, India (31.03.2021) What are the effects of biometric and digital technologies on social protection for the poor in India? Drawing on ethnographic research from rural Tamil Nadu, this paper presents evidence of how new technologies are experienced by beneficiaries of the Public Distribution System (PDS), and analyses the impacts of technology innovations on transparency, exclusion and mediation. The authors focus on the implementation of ‘smartcards,’ new digitised and Aadhaar-enabled ration cards, introduced in ration shops across Tamil Nadu in 2017. They first document how digitised smartcards and mobile text messages transform transparency for beneficiaries by introducing new opacities and information gaps. They then demonstrate how a lack of transparency (re)produces forms of exclusion that remain a challenge under the automated PDS. Finally, the paper highlights how novel forms of kin and non-kin mediation play a mitigating role in accessing PDS, and constitute a vital part of the infrastructure underpinning social welfare delivery.

22 August 2022
Nigeria: Why we introduced digitalized cash transfer payments - FG

Daily Post Nigeria (12.08.2022)  The Federal Government said the introduction of digitalized cash transfer payment will help in addressing some lapses while operating the analog payment system. Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management, and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, disclosed this at the official flag-off of the grant for vulnerable groups as well as the digitized payment for conditional cash transfer held in Dutse, Jigawa State.

19 August 2022
Social protection and response to COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean: Innovations in registration and payment systems

International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) (01.08.2022) The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the foundations of the economy and provoked devastating social effects in all the countries in the world, being Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) one of the most affected regions. This report updates the regional overview of the response measures to the pandemic, details cash transfer programmes and analyses their coverage and discusses the challenges in adopting these innovations during the response to the first outbreak of the virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.

16 August 2022
G2P digital payments and financial inclusion for social resilience

International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) (01.08.2022) There is a global trend to automate and digitalise the cash payments of social protection programmes, and there has been a shift towards diversifying payment means in some African countries such as Zambia, Namibia, Togo, Tanzania, Malawi, Comoros and Mozambique. In Mozambique, the COVID-19 pandemic response has tripled the social protection system’s coverage, from 520,000 to approximately 1.6 million households. In the past few years, the country’s emergency response has driven improvements in digital payments.

9 August 2022
The opportunities of digital inclusion and the tech behind it

TechRepublic (05.08.2022)  There are 2.9 billion people worldwide who do not have internet access or the opportunities to engage in the digital economy. Despite the technological advancements, the digital divide continues to affect all aspects of life, from banking to healthcare, education, communications and media.

27 June 2022
Social Protection in a Pandemic – Trends, Challenges, and Technology

Asian Development Bank (June 2022) The report, part of a GIZ-ADB collaboration, reviews trends in social protection and recent pandemic responses. It discusses how artificial intelligence (AI) tools can fit into the social protection delivery chain. It reviews the functioning of the delivery chain during the pandemic to identify gaps in social protection systems along with emerging solutions that draw on digital technology. The report includes four case studies and suggests steps policymakers could take to foster an enabling environment for the use of AI in social protection.

23 June 2022
Can Digital G2P Transfers Drive Financial Inclusion and Digital Payments? Evidence from India

Center for Global Development (09.06.2022) Does channeling government-to-person (G2P) payments through bank accounts encourage financial inclusion and use? This paper explores the factors that have driven the adoption of digital payments in India by beneficiaries of PMGKY, the large-scale COVID-19 relief program launched in May 2020. India’s 2013 move to pay social benefits through direct transfers into bank accounts significantly increased account ownership, but uptake of digital payments has been slower, although it has accelerated more recently through smartphone-based apps.

20 June 2022
India. Government to launch AI-driven portal for distributing pension payments

Pension Policy International  (16.06.2022) In order to seamlessly process, track and disburse pensions, the Department of Pension and Pensioners’ Welfare will soon launch an Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled the common portal for the benefit of pensioners and elderly citizens. Union Minister Jitendra Singh said that the AI-supported portal, ‘Bhavishya’, will send automatic alerts to pensioners and superannuated senior citizens, including retired paramilitary personnel.

31 May 2022
Social protection response to COVID-19 in rural LAC: The potential of digitalization to build back better

International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) (April 2022) This Policy Research Brief analyses how digitalisation can facilitate rural populations’ access to effective and adequate social protection and economic inclusion in Latin America and the Caribbean. It investigates the region’s social protection response to COVID-19 and highlights three good practices in providing digitalised social protection to vulnerable rural populations during the crisis. Based on this analysis and considering the local obstacles to digitalised social protection in rural areas, recommendations are provided to build rural social protection back better after the pandemic.

4 April 2022
UK: Flexi-retirement increasingly common due to gig economy

Money Marketing (30.03.2022) Flexi-retirement is becoming increasingly common, as more and more retirees are opting to work part-time in the gig economy. According to a new report from Abrdn, two thirds of people retiring in 2022 do not plan on giving up work completely. This compares to just over half of those who retired in 2021 and a third of 2020 retirees. The report, which surveyed 2,000 UK adults, reveals how the “class of 2022” plan to spend their and money in retirement.

4 March 2022
Digital Technologies for Government-Supported Health Insurance Systems in Asia and the Pacific

Asian Development Bank (December 2021) Examples from low- and middle-income countries in the region and beyond are drawn to demonstrate how digital solutions have improved health insurance management and administration. To support decision-making on potential investments, the report identifies key success factors for integrating new technologies into public health insurance schemes.

1 March 2022
AI for social protection: Mind the people (23.02.2022) Interest in artificial intelligence (AI) as an instrument for improving efficiency in the public sector is at an all-time high. This interest is motivated by the ambition to develop neutral, scientific, and objective techniques of government decisionmaking (Harcourt 2018). As of April 2021, governments of 19 European countries had launched national AI strategies.

28 February 2022
Social protection and the response to COVID-19 in LAC: innovation in registration and payment systems

International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) (10.02.2022) The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the foundations of the economy and provoked devastating social effects in all countries of the world, with Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) one of the most affected regions. The region is experiencing deteriorating levels of poverty and extreme poverty, most significantly affecting children and adolescents. This One Pager discusses digital payment systems for social protection interventions in the region.