Rapid Account Opening in a Pandemic

Governments and funders worldwide are responding to the severe economic blow from the COVID-19 pandemic by delivering social assistance payments to families and individuals.Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, at least 151 countries have adopted 684 social protection- and labor-related measures. More than half of the measures include social assistance payments. Increasingly, they are turning to digital delivery for disbursements, which has accelerated the demand for financial services providers (FSPs) to be able to open formal financial accounts rapidly and with minimal or zero physical contact with customers. For those who already have accounts with FSPs that are connected to a payments infrastructure, receiving digital government payments can be easy. But there are many people who still must open an account at a participating FSP to receive social assistance. This presents several challenges for governments to structure assistance in ways that achieve rapid disbursal and allow FSPs to process account applications quickly and at a physical distance. Barriers to digital delivery can be particularly high for women who may lack documentation, have limited literacy or digital skills, or limited ability to travel. Yet, women frequently are the primary recipients of social assistance payments intended to support the health and welfare of their families.This Briefing provides guidance for those designing and deploying social assistance payments to help them work with financial sector regulators and implement social assistance payments that facilitate rapid, remote account opening in compliance with anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) rules.

Themes: Beneficiary Identification, Targeting, Onboarding, COVID-19, Customer Privacy and Protection, Digital Payment Ecosystems, Financial Inclusion, Women’s Empowerment