The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic is having devastating impacts on the economy and people of the Philippines, and since the onset of pandemic, the Government of the Philippines (GoP) has responded with strong social protection measures. The Social Amelioration Program (SAP) enacted under the Bayanihan To Heal as One Act in March 2020 and managed by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), aims to provide cash assistance to 18 million households (over 75 percent of total households) in the country. The first tranche of SAP (SAP 1), however, experienced significant delivery challenges. This experience led to several changes in the operation of the second tranche of SAP (SAP 2). This case study aims to document the lessons learned from the implementation of the SAP 2, specifically focusing on the digital G2P (government to persons) payment delivery. Digital delivery in SAP 2 was a significant departure from SAP 1 which almost entirely relied on manual processing and physical cash delivery except for the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), the country’s flagship safety net program. It is also an important milestone where GoP introduced large-scale G2P payments through multiple Financial Service Providers (FSPs) beyond the state-owned Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP). SAP 2 introduced several important changes that are worth noting: Expanded pool of beneficiaries: SAP 2 added over 5 million waitlisted households while continuing to support SAP 1 beneficiaries residing in the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) areas in early May 2020; Introduction of an online application platform: in an attempt to expedite the digitization of beneficiary records, SAP 2 tried to use an online platform; Digital payments through FSPs: the DSWD signed a memorandum of agreement with 6 FSPs, facilitated by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), to deliver payments; and Increased potential for financial inclusion and G2P payments with customer choice: FSPs helped beneficiaries open bank/e-money accounts, which could potentially be converted to full transaction accounts for multiple purposes including G2P payments.

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