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Digital cash transfers in Lao PDR - 2021
This scoping exercise offers an initial understanding of the digital financial landscape in Lao PDR and a preliminary exploration of opportunities and challenges surrounding digitalization of humanitarian cash transfers, mobile money transfers in particular

Up until recently, cash in hand has been the only feasible way to deliver cash transfers to targeted recipients in the country. The Digital Financial Service (DFS) ecosystem in Lao PDR is in the early stages of development, the economy is predominantly rural and cash-dominated, there are limited banking and mobile phone options available, and digital literacy levels are low. These are among the key factors that have made alternative options to direct cash in hand - such as digital cash transfers like mobile money, electronic vouchers, ATM cards, others - almost impossible for cash actors to explore until now.

However, there are positive signs of change. The DFS ecosystem is growing, and digital solutions are increasingly on offer. In line with global trends that see a greater use of digital technology to deliver cash to recipients (e.g. card-based or mobile phone-based systems), there is now growing appetite among cash actors in the country, including WFP, for exploring how to best leverage emerging digital solutions, mobile money in particular, as alternative delivery channels to cash in hand in this context.