A monthly publication of the UN Task Force on Digital Financing of the SDGs for its members and other stakeholders. 
March 20, 2020
"We must all play our part by showing solidarity with the most vulnerable – the elderly, the sick, those without reliable healthcare. Let's overcome this threat together."

António Guterres , United Nations Secretary-General 

We are sure that you are all doing many things to protect your families and to support your and other communities during the two-fold health and economic crisis. We wish you all well and applaud these efforts.

We have dedicated this briefing to describe some of the emerging uses of digital financing that can help these efforts. Our hope is that this ‘pop up innovation hub’ will inspire you to draw on ideas in your own efforts, and to contribute more examples that we can communicate to you all over the coming months. Please do share this briefing with anyone in your networks who may be interested, able to help or looking for projects to engage with and support.
The coronavirus crisis has made digital a life-line for hundreds of millions of people. This also deepens the damaging implications of being excluded from the digital world. Those connected depend on digital for our daily news, to interact with our friends and families, to keep working and earning a livelihood, to order food and other essentials, to access entertainment, and to maintain children’s learning. The surge in governments making hundreds of billions of dollars of cash payments depends critically on the digital payments infrastructure, as do people who depend on e-commerce platforms to get household essentials.
Easing the load of highly stressed health systems would be a huge help in managing the health crisis. Aspire to Innovate (a2i), a programme of Cabinet Division and ICT Division of the Government of Bangladesh supported by the United Nations Development Programme, has formed a public-private consortium linking the government’s phone-based health service ‘Shastho Batayon’ with health-tech startups like to provide digital health services whilst also encouraging social distancing. This uber-doctor model connects people with hundreds of doctors around the country through a toll-free hotline and on-line portal ( Other medical call services such as those provided by Synesis Limited and TRCL charge users a premium to connect and get professional advice, but at a much lower consultation cost than a hospital visit. 
UNCDF is working with Ministry of Development of Digital Economy in Burkina Faso to accelerate the rollout of DiagnoseMe, a telehealth and diagnostics solution, conceived during the Hack for Wuhan event , held by Wuhan2020 , an initiative that unites developers, designers, builders, and creators who use technology to find solutions for the coronavirus.
Contact: Rezwanul Haque Jami, a2i, [email protected]   
Contact: Anir Chowdhury, a2i, [email protected]  
Contact: Henri Dommel, UNCDF, [email protected]
In this difficult moment, digital payment providers might well find ways to reduce transaction costs to customers, helping low income users and proactively showing that they are not benefiting from the crisis. Following a call by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, for example, for banks and mobile money providers to consider reducing costs of transactions, Safaricom announced that it would double the daily transaction limit to Ksh150,000 (US$1,500) and that all person-to-person transactions using M-Pesa below KSh1,000 (US$10) would be free for the next 90 days. Bank of Uganda has followed suit, instructing all commercial banks and mobile money operators to drop transaction fees for bank-to-wallet and wallet-to-bank transfers; mobile money providers in Uganda have also slashed merchant payment charges. State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) also waived all charges on fund transfers through online banking channels. In Singapore, Standard Chartered announced that late payment fees, late interest charges for credit cards and personal loans, and late fees and default fees for retail mortgages would all be waived. Bank of Baroda took similar steps in India.
Consider Launching Your Own Hackathon!

Our efforts to socialize your inspirations builds on the efforts of many others to catalyze innovation in addressing the crisis. For example, Hack the Crisis hackathon event was recently held in Estonia, co-hosted by Garage48 and Accelerate Estonia , to identify and prototype digital solutions to the coronavirus crisis. The event generated ideas for self-diagnostics, information sharing, local solidarity actions, remote education and socialization. The top five prototypes were offered seed grants and mentorship. 
Germany is holding a #WirVsVirus Hackathon this weekend for solutions on the coronavirus crisis.
Helping businesses survive the dramatic collapse of markets is essential to prevent entire local and national economies going into meltdown. Crowdfunding platform specialist Smallbrooks together with the Confederation of Danish Industry and Copenhagen Fintech is developing a crowdfunding platform in Denmark that allows local businesses to sell their goods and services online without having to build a webshop, an approach that could be used elsewhere. In the US, Kabbage , an online loan provider, has built a dedicated platform to support small businesses to earn revenue despite ‘social distancing’ measures keeping their customers away. 
DBS Bank, a leading financial services group in Asia, has launched  financial relief packages and initiatives to accelerate digital adoption and transaction fulfilment needs amid the coronavirus crisis. This includes a contact-free, emergency financing line for businesses, collateral-free digital loans, and digital processing of trade financing with no physical paperwork or contact needed by integrating all stages including letters of credit, import bills, trust receipts, banker’s guarantees and shipping guarantees online. Ant Duo-Chain , a blockchain-powered supply chain finance platform developed by Ant Financial, allows small and medium suppliers to apply loans from banks with their receivables from large enterprises, helping them deal with financial constraints during the coronavirus epidemic. 
Contact: Esben Bistrup Halvorsen, Smallbrooks, [email protected]
Contact: Mikkel Larsen, DBS Bank, [email protected]
 Contact: Meng Yan, Ant Financial, [email protected]
Crowdfunding platforms are raising millions for priority medical supplies and relief to vulnerable groups and affected communities. Crowdfunding platforms are being used to   mobilize donations in times when the capabilities of centralized governmental control are being severely tested. These include a high profile crowdfunding campaign launched by football superstar Zlatan Ibrahimović , to direct donations to people facing economic hardship due to virus-related job loss. Kitabisa , an Indonesian-based donation crowdfunding platform, enables people to set up fundraisers, donate, solicit help needed in their area, and volunteer to distribute aid supplies. The platform has already raised IDR 14 billion (USD 900,000) for medical kits, disinfectant, food and cash aid. For Good Causes in the UK allows users to donate their dormant assets like loyalty points, manufacturers’ rebates or mandatory compensation schemes (e.g. for late trains) to charities of their choice, including foodbanks and (mental) healthcare providers at the frontlines of coronavirus response.
Contact: Vikra Ijas, Kitabisa, [email protected]   
Contact: Steve Wilks, For Good Causes, [email protected]
Digital insurance products are being launched. In China WeSure, the insurance arm of Tencent, has rapidly launched a suite of products , accessible within the WeChat Pay, to cover those affected by coronavirus, from medical personnel to SMEs. It has also launched a free insurance policy open to all Chinese citizens aged 0-65 through its corporate social responsibility arm. Ride-hailing, food delivery and payment services company Grab has partnered with casualty insurer Chubb to provide a payout of up to US$1,000 for its drivers and delivery partners, should they be diagnosed with the coronavirus. Riskcovry, a Mumbai-based start-up, has launched an innovative insurance in-a-box solution for the coronavirus for businesses that want to offer hospitalization and lost wages coverage. In light of the growing number of travel insurance claims related to coronavirus, online dispute resolution platforms, such as UK’s private service ‘Resolver’ , may play an important role in the recovery process. 
This briefing is just a snapshot of some of the initiatives and innovations that have emerged already. There are many more under development as communities, officials and entrepreneurs come together to address the crisis. 
One area where there may be developments is in local currencies which can enable communities to build their economies in times of crisis. For example, Hive network reports that demand for the digital community currency Sarafu in Kenya has increased dramatically due to coronavirus.  
Another area is in the development of innovation bond / tokens to raise funds for dedicated Covid-19 innovation response projects. As Izabella Kaminska wrote in the Financial Times ”Digital securities could raise private capital quickly to be used for funding responses to Covid-19” a working group has been convened to explore this idea. Leading Ethereum crowdfunding platform GitCoin has also announced it will have a public health focused funding round .
Contact: Sofie Blakstad, CEO, hiveonline [email protected]
Contact: Covid Bond working group
Katherine Foster, Innovation Advisor, [email protected]
John Salmon, Hogan Lovells
Lawrence Wintermeyer, Global Digital Finance
Note: this briefing provides unverified information on use cases provided to us by community members, and is not intended to represent or endorse the initiatives described or approaches adopted.
The Reader is a monthly publication produced by the secretariat of the United Nations Secretary-General's Task Force on Digital Financing of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is intended for the members of the Task Force, their staff, and other interested parties. Please direct comments or questions to [email protected]
Funding for the Task Force is provided by the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund Office, with the generous support of the Governments of Germany and Italy.  | @UNDFTaskForce | Twitter: #DigitalFinancingTF