The Zambian Ministry of Community Development and Social Services (MCDSS) is taking a novel approach to a new government-to-person (G2P) payment system launched two years ago. Participants in its Support to Women’s Livelihoods (SWL) initiative can decide for themselves at which provider and into what kind of account they want to receive their social protection grant. MCDSS launched this effort in late 2016, and by the end of 2017 the first round of payments was transferred into commercial bank accounts, mobile wallets, ATM cards and post office accounts. Two years on, at the end of 2018, 12,748 women have been enrolled and 12,084 received their grant payments through the new multi-provider payment system. Most government transfers in Zambia are made through traditional cash distribution systems. From its onset, MCDSS recognized the logistical challenges of continuing with this familiar approach and saw the added benefits for a largely financially excluded population of transitioning to a digital transfer system. This case study documents what drove MCDSS to develop an innovative, choice-based digital payments system and how this new multi-provider payments model has worked in practice.

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