UPPR provides funds to urban poor communities to identify those in most need of support and finances activities that improve their livelihoods and social conditions, for example through apprenticeships, grants for small business development and education grants to keep girls in school.
For the provision of funds, UPPR normally issues bank cheques, which are delivered to the beneficiary’s location through its 29 Town Offices. The signature of the respective Town Mayor is necessary for the cheques to be approved, requiring the beneficiary to collect this at the Pourashava /Municipality offices. As payments are done through account payee cheques, beneficiaries have to withdraw the full grant amount in one transaction.
On 26 November 2013, UPPR and the Dutch-Bangla Bank Limited (DBBL) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to introduce DBBL’s Mobile Banking Services in UPPRs operations. Starting as a pilot, DBBL’s Mobile Banking Services will be used to transfer grants to UPPR beneficiaries in Savar and Tangail. Once the grant is approved, the beneficiary can cash the grant either at the nearest Community Resource Centre (CRC), which will work as agent points of DBBL, or from any of the DBBL bank branches and ATMs. While the full grant amount will be transferred to the beneficiaries account, the grantees can withdraw parts of it depending on their needs without incurring any withdrawal charges. Having the option to withdraw only the needed amounts will make it safer for beneficiaries as they can avoid storing not immediately needed cash in their homes. For the Mayors, this partnership will facilitate grant approval, as they will be able to approve the total grant amount per town in one process instead of having to approve cheques for each beneficiary.
As a result of the cooperation, extending UPPR’s financial support to urban poor communities will be faster and easier for both the project and the beneficiaries. This partnership will not only result in smoother running of UPPR’s financial operations but will see urban poor’s access to financial services extended. Beneficiaries will have a bank account without annual fee with DBBL, giving them access to formal banking and other related services, such as utility payments and the topping-up of phone credit. This will also ensure that beneficiaries have access to savings and loan products through the formal banking sector, which is often cheaper than comparable products from informal moneylenders, beyond UPPR’s project implementation period.