How Canadian fintech is helping to relieve suffering in Yemen

  • By Vince Kadar
  • Tuesday, January 21, 2020
THE CONFLICT

The world’s worst humanitarian crisis is unfolding in Yemen, where an ongoing political and military conflict has ignited a cycle of extreme violence and widespread, life-threatening malnutrition.

As a result of this five-year civil war, about 80% of the country’s population rely on humanitarian help for survival. That’s over 24 million marginalized people struggling to find food, water, and medical attention on a daily basis. For the 4.3 million people who have been forced from their homes, the situation is even more dire.

The factors that perpetuate this ongoing crisis are complex and ever-evolving, but one significant contributor is a near-total lack of access to financial security. The country’s state institutions (including the Central Bank of Yemen) are in turmoil, resulting in fragmented, unreliable banking infrastructure and leaving 90% of Yemen’s population reliant on a turbulent cash economy. Meanwhile, news emerged last week that the country’s warring factions are threatening to create two distinct currencies with vastly different values, leaving Yemenis to suffer from the chaos and that’s sure to follow.

TELEPIN’S ROLE IN FINDING A SOLUTION

Telepin hopes to offer a technological solution that may bring some relief and financial resilience to those caught in the cross-fire of this conflict.

We’ve partnered with ONE, a Yemeni-backed fintech brand of the National Wallet Company, to launch Yemen’s first mobile money platform. Powered by our technology and a distribution network of more than 100,000 direct and indirect retailers in Yemen, our hope is that this platform will give the Yemenis with mobile access (about 70% of the population) a vital alternative to the volatility of cash.

The platform, which we plan to launch later this year, will allow customers to securely manage the money they receive, whether via aide disbursements, transfers from family or friends, or a salary. They can then use the platform to pay bills, buy food, or cover needed medical treatment. This eliminates the need for lengthy and dangerous journeys to cash transfer points, and it restores some of the dignity and resilience that’s often the first casualty in such a malignant conflict. Studies have shown that similar platforms have offered measurable relief elsewhere in the world, and our hope is that the same will be true in Yemen.

Read our recent press release  for more about the features built into our platform, and how they’ll help Yemenis find a lifeline out of their current suffering.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR YEMEN

Financial inclusion via mobile money will not solve the crisis in Yemen. Our hope is that it will provide displaced and suffering Yemenis with the means to secure their money, but more is needed.

Last month, the UN’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, noted significant progress towards peace in the country. He says that warring factions have respected and protected humanitarian efforts, while a ceasefire agreement, though fragile, has been largely upheld since its negotiation a year ago. Mr Griffiths suggests that a shift towards the end of this conflict is in sight, but that it depends on the political will of those leading this conflict. Whether generating that will is possible—and how long it will take to get there—remains an open question.

In the meantime, families on the ground in Yemen are relying on solutions from the international community to help them cope with everyday life. Alongside our partners at ONE, we hope that our mobile money platform will become one of the most useful of those solutions, and will give those facing the worst effects of this conflict a way out of instability.

Press Release: Telepin Selected to Power Economic Development and Humanitarian Initiative in Yemen