Mobile money and airtime as public health incentives
In Nigeria, the nonprofit New Incentives is working alongside state governments and partners to reduce mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV and neonatal mortality. Through their conditional cash transfer program, New Incentives incentivizes pregnant women to access lifesaving health services that often have low adoption rates - including registering for antenatal care and delivering in hospitals.
New Incentives’ cash transfer program has positively increased the demand for lifesaving health services in Nigeria. In the state of Akwa Ibom, facility deliveries at participating clinics have nearly doubled from 30% to 55% following program adoption. In addition to improving health behaviors, cash transfers also provide pregnant women and their families with invaluable financial resources during this vulnerable time.
The intervention saves lives by reducing neonatal mortality and the rate of HIV-positive newborns. It also provides poor pregnant women with cash they can freely spend to alleviate their family’s poverty.
Sending Money and Airtime at the Last Mile
New Incentives counts on Telerivet to send out mobile money tokens via SMS to beneficiaries in hard-to-reach areas where network reliability is a challenge. Each SMS message contains a unique token, and instructions for how the recipient can redeem the token at a bank branch for cash.
The cash transfers, totaling $130 for the average participant, are an effective means to reward health-seeking behaviors and financially support pregnant women before and after their deliveries. The program has already served over 2,500 women, and is undergoing rapid scale-up period as it expands to several Nigerian states.
Additionally, New Incentives uses Telerivet to disseminate airtime as an incentive for women who complete a Randomized Controlled Trial program survey, financed by the Gates Foundation. Airtime transfers have become an increasingly powerful tool for incentivizing survey responses and for promoting behavior change communication.
Since New Incentives' beneficiaries are already buying airtime in order to make calls, send SMS, and access the internet on their mobile phone, sending airtime reduces beneficiaries' communication expenses, and is a practical alternative to sending cash.
By using Telerivet, New Incentives is able to reliably reach their most remote beneficiaries. “Network reliability is an issue in Nigeria, therefore we count on Telerivet for the messages to arrive for hard-to-reach cases,” New Incentives Chief Strategy Officer Patrick Stadler shared. “Telerivet also saves us hours each week compared to our previous method of disseminating airtime."