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Political Power and Digital Payments in a Government Social Cash Programme

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conference contribution
posted on 2023-08-30, 14:26 authored by Atika A. Kemal
The opportunities provided by digital technologies to governments in distributing digital welfare payments, or government-to-person (G2P) payments to poor citizens has had a profound effect on the inclusion agenda in many developing countries. However, paucity remains on research that investigates the motivations behind the transition from cash to digital G2P payments and its effects on institutional practices. Hence, this paper examined the case of a government social cash programme in Pakistan that implemented digital payments for disbursing G2P payments to poor women beneficiaries. It explored how the interplay of political forces with external and institutional forces influenced the construction of digital payments and its implications on programme managers. Also, how digital payments affected the power equilibrium for certain political actors involved in the programme. Through case study research, qualitative data was collected through interviews conducted with programme designers and stakeholders in the G2P programme. The findings concluded that digital technologies were socially-embedded in the organisational context, so were progressively transformative for programme designers. Hence, digital payments led to the institutional strengthening of the G2P programme, albeit, diminished the power of other political actors. As contribution, the paper sheds light on how the construction of digital payments was a socio-political process that shifted the power equilibrium by creating new structures of power and authority. This paper has implications for governments, banks and international funding agencies who are utilising digital payments to promote the inclusion agenda for its citizens.


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Development Studies Association Conference (DSA2016): Politics in Development

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Development Studies Association Conference (DSA2016): Politics in Development


University of Oxford, UK

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ARCHIVED Lord Ashcroft International Business School (until September 2018)

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