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Thursday, February 19, 2015

UPU joins the Better Than Cash Alliance

16.02.2015 - By joining the Better Than Cash Alliance, the UPU will pursue the migration of cash to electronic payments as part of the leading global network of governments, companies and international organizations on digital payments.

 A postal employee at a post office outside of Istanbul, Turkey, providing postal financial services to customers. (Photo: UPU/E. Oktay)

The UPU has supported the shift from cash to electronic payments for many years, as paper money orders become obsolete and new technologies enable the development of a worldwide electronic postal payment network among the world's Posts. 

As a Better Than Cash Alliance member, the UPU will further its work in this area, while benefiting from knowledge, expertise and opportunities for collaboration with other members. 

UPU Director General Bishar A. Hussein says modern services are essential for bringing citizens into the financial fold and lifting people out of poverty. Post offices worldwide, he says, can play an important role in achieving this goal. 

“The global network of more than 660,000 post offices – many of which are located in rural areas – is an important channel for formal remittance services and other financial offerings," he says. "Moving these transactions from cash to electronic payment not only ensures the money gets into the right hands, but it provides better protection for consumers, makes money movements transparent and creates more opportunities to better reach and serve the un- and under-banked," he adds. 

Dr Ruth Goodwin-Groen, managing director of the Better Than Cash Alliance, concurs. “The UPU is in a unique position to promote and support its members in the shift from cash to electronic payments. We applaud the work that the UPU has already undertaken to advance this transition and the steps it is taking to bring post offices globally into the 21th century.”

Strategic direction

Some 70 Posts use the UPU’s International Financial System software to offer digital remittance services. More than 50 Posts also offer account-based financial services, managing more than 1.6 billion savings and deposit accounts. Several hundred million people also use the post to pay government or utility bills. 

In 2013, postal financial services accounted for almost 14.5% of global postal revenues worth almost 346 billion dollars. 

As letter-post volumes decline, Posts are increasingly diversifying their business and developing postal financial services as part of their strategies. In several countries, such as China, India and Italy, postal financial services generate more than 50% of the Post’s revenues.
Through the Better Than Cash Alliance, the UPU will further support its member countries and designated operators in their strategic and business approach.

Partnerships key

The UPU increasingly works hand in hand with international organizations, lending institutions and donors to make remittances more accessible to the most disadvantaged populations. Projects with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the European Union and PlaNet Finance have enabled such postal services to be developed or extended in rural areas of Africa, Asia and Central Asia. Both IFAD and BMGF are members of the Better Than Cash Alliance. 

As a global forum for dialogue and cooperation, the UPU also organizes regular forums that explore financial models and how new technologies such as mobile banking can be used to further national and global financial inclusion goals.
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