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Financial grants disbursed through mobile app to households in the Philippines

The Philippine government is set to utilise technology in extending financial assistance to families in strife-torn Marawi City. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), has announced in a statement that it will release additional Livelihood Settlement Grants (LSGs) to households in less affected areas in the city through a mobile application. 

To disburse these LSGs, the DSWD has partnered with financial service provider Starpay Corporation. Under the agreement, the department will use the firm’s smartphone app to extend an additional P10,000 worth of LSGs per family.  The application is now in the initial stages of gathering data from households in Marawi City. DSWD Region X Director Mari-flor Dollaga-Libang noted: “Registration was already facilitated by Starpay Corporation and log-in details were distributed to the families through their nominated mobile numbers”. 

As of current data, 28,204 families from less affected areas will be receiving livelihood assistance. Of this number, 5,000 families have already been notified daily about the financial grants that they will be receiving. 

To register and receive their LSGs, beneficiaries may download the Starpay application and fill in personal details like name, date of birth and address. Upon updating these data, users may take a photo and upload any acceptable government ID including passport, driver’s license, Philhealth ID and Social Security System ID. After updating their accounts, beneficiaries will then receive a message confirming their transaction. Beneficiaries can subsequently cash out funds from their online ‘wallet’ within the app through ATM withdrawal or other forms of payout. 

One of the primary concerns in using the application is blocked accounts on the mobile provider’s end. Another challenge is that some beneficiaries do not have access to smartphones and internet services. To address these issues, the DSWD Region X requested assistance from the local government of Marawi and officials from the Task Force Bangon Marawi Field Office to take a list of users experiencing these challenges. The DSWD will then request manual beneficiary reference numbers for these beneficiaries. 

The Social Welfare Department has already distributed a Transitory Family Support Package worth PHP 53,000 (US$ 1,103) and PHP 14,400 (US$ 299.81) to over 17,000 displaced families in the most affected areas of the city. Aside from financial assistance, the agency also dispatches a Pabaon Package to beneficiaries there. 

The DSWD has been ramping up efforts to help households in Marawi City since 2017, following an Administrative Order signed by the Philippine government. The Order provided for the creation of an Inter-Agency Task Force for the Recovery, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation of the City and other affected localities. It also directed government agencies to support and cooperate with the Task Force. 

Pursuant to this, the Department of Budget and Management has released funds to the DSWD to be used for its LSG project. The LSG programme aims to provide assistance to internally displaced persons of IDPs in most affected and less affected areas who were affected by the Marawi Siege. 

The LSGs shall be used as seed capital for start-up enterprises that were damaged during the siege. The funding shall likewise be allotted as capital for the purchase of starter kits of damaged livelihoods and rehabilitation of small and micro-businesses. 

The Social Welfare Department joins a string of government agencies that continue to innovate and help Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises. As recently reported by OpenGov Asia, the Department of Science and Technology announced that it has put up a website called Mimaropa Ventures PH that would allow businesses in the MIMAROPA Region to showcase their products and services. The new site is anticipated to help community-based MSMEs which the DOST has supported through fund assistance and technology-sharing. 

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