Emergency Disbursements during COVID-19: Regulatory Tools for Rapid Account Opening and Oversight

More than 100 countries have launched emergency cash disbursement programs to alleviate financial hardships for individuals and households in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these programs are based in digital payments; however, a lack of official identification, mobile data services and the difficulties in face-to-face interactions restrict potential users from a standard customer due diligence process. Guidance from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global anti-money laundering standards-setting body, encourage the use of innovative solutions for customer onboarding, specifically the risk-based approach and simplified due diligence (SDD). This paper summarizes the range of practice across jurisdictions that have employed a combination of SDD (also known as tiered CDD), licensing of non-bank financial institutions, and digital identification to enroll unbanked individuals into financial accounts so that they could receive COVID-19-related relief cash transfers. As this note concludes, jurisdictions that had adopted such practices were able to quickly ramp-up disbursement programs, bringing tens of millions of beneficiaries into the formal financial system.

Themes: Beneficiary Identification, Targeting, Onboarding, COVID-19, Digital Payment Ecosystems, Financial Inclusion