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Citizens and States: How Can Digital ID and Payments Improve State Capacity and Effectiveness?

– Center for Global Development

In this report for the Center for Global Development, Alan Gleb, Anit Mukherjee, and Kyle Navis explore the power of digital ID, mobile phones, and mobile payments to allow states to deliver better, more inclusive programs that the public can hold to account

The trio of Gelb, Mukherjee, and Navis take a measured approach to evaluating “ID, mobiles, and payments to improve the capacity of governments” (which they refer to as “JAM” throughout) across the globe. They use the Sustainable Development Goals to conduct their analysis.

They investigate common problems solved by JAM, how JAM coverage looks in different countries, potential public policies toward universal applications of JAM, options for efficient pricing and equity, social protection, and options for achievable real-time governance. They state:

"The programs can provide government-to-person payments, or vouchers tied to the purchase of essential goods, or in-kind provision of goods and services—with or without conditionalities. They can also include fee-based services that require person-to-government payments."

The trio conclude there is a long way to go to ensure JAM programs are universally accessible and adopted by governments. They also note oversight of JAM will continue to evolve as citizens and states adjust to “digital first” thinking.

Several principles … can be helpful in formulating or assessing digital governance systems. Do they provide for universal access? Do they embody clear accountability for performance? Do they empower beneficiaries by providing them with choice over service provider and effective voice? Does the design of reform exploit the potential for favorable externalities, such as gender equity and women’s economic empowerment?

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