New Delhi: Governments world over are increasingly adopting electronic payment methods as an alternative to cash and cheque-based benefit programme, as a measure to save money and improve financial inclusion.
     
The United States, Italy, Canada, United Arab Emirates and Romania are some of the latest examples of governments going paperless as a cost-savings opportunity and a method of addressing financial inclusion, MasterCard Worldwide said in a statement.
     
Most recently, the South African Social Security Agency distributed more than 2.5 million debit cards to social grant recipients across the country with a target of 10 million cards by March 2013, the statement added.
     
"By supporting governments around the world with electronic payment programmes we are helping save money and improve efficiencies. But more importantly, together we are opening up a world of inclusion for those who have previously not had access to traditional financial services," MasterCard Worldwide Chief Products Officer Tim Murphy said.
     
According to Mastercard, the United States Department of the Treasury is also moving towards all electronic payments, including the Direct Express debit card, which is used to deliver social security and other federal benefits.
     
The programme is expected to save the US government USD 1 billion over the first ten years, the statement said.
     
Some of the other examples include the Italian central government's launch of the "Carta Acquisti" social card programme to assist citizens in need. In Romania, the Poste Romania also began distributing prepaid cards across the country to social benefit recipients.
     
Meanwhile, the Toronto Employment and Social Services (TESS) recently launched prepaid benefits cards for the delivery of social assistance disbursements. In Mexico, a pilot is underway for the residents of Oaxaca to access a variety of financial instruments through their mobile phone’s SMS functions.

(Agencies)

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