PLAN Card

An electronic voucher scheme designed to work in the most challenging of environments.

About the project

Plan International South Sudan is working in Torit, providing food and NFI baskets to vulnerable households. Currently, hard copy vouchers are distributed to beneficiaries who are queuing in public spaces. This creates a security risk for both staff and beneficiaries, as they draw attention to the distribution. In addition, if a beneficiary cannot attend the distribution they then miss out on their entitlements. This means that the most vulnerable beneficiaries are most likely to miss out. These risks and accessibility issues necessitate finding a technological solution for distributing vouchers, which is dignified for the beneficiaries, as well as risk minimising for all key actors. Charlie Goldsmith Associates has been selected to develop a system for the use of electronic vouchers, to address these issues. This pilot project will take place in Torit, with approximately 400 households and 10 selected traders. Plan has an office as Torit, which will be a coordination office for this project.

The PLAN Card

The card itself is a contactless 'NFC' enabled card, the size of a credit card. Beneficiaries are issued with a card, and their photo and details are printed on the front.
Importantly for the system the card also stores their 'entitlement' to goods.

The card does not operate as a bank card holding value, as this would require working under stricter banking regulations. The card is designed to hold certain quantities of goods. Before loading the vouchers on the cards, Plan reach an agreement with the traders regarding the pricing of goods. With set pricing, Plan can then work out exactly which quantities that should be given to each beneficiary. The card stores the 'points' available for each item so that beneficiaries can take part of their entitlements, while leaving the other part on the card.

Below is an example to explain how the technology on the card works.

  1. Each beneficiary is entitled to e.g.say 90 Kg Sorghum in one month. On the card, this is divided in units of 10 Kg. The beneficiary can come to the trader and choose to take e.g. 40 Kg, leaving 50 Kg on the card to collect at a later time.
  2. Beneficiaries can only collect any multiplication of the unit selected. For example, if 20 litres of oil are loaded on the card in units of 2 litres, a beneficiary can collect 10 times 2 litres of oil.
  3. This is the same for every individual food or NFI item. The card can store up to 20 different items.
  4. When a beneficiary taps the card to the phone, the trader will see the quantities of individual products that the beneficiary is entitled to.
  5. With this system, beneficiaries can leave part of their entitlements on their card, which creates better security for them and allows them to only take what they can carry. After one month, the vouchers expire, and any quantity still left on the card will be topped up to the new value for the next month. The system will provide a clear overview of what beneficiaries have used on their card, and how much each trader has given out. The overview per trader allows for easy payment of traders, based on the agreed price.
Secure transactions

When the card is presented to the Traders' phone the beneficiaries picture, pre-loaded on the phone, is show on screen allowing instant verification. The phone also shows the remaining entitlement for this person that is stored on the card, and if goods are available the transaction can take place.

Traders need to log in to the app on the TouchPoint phone with an Id and password, and also have a PIN that they use to authorize transactions. Only when both pins are presented together with the card can the transaction be confirmed.

The Data on the card is encrypted and cannot be copied to another card. If a card is lost then an administrator using this website, or a phone in the field can mark it as blocked.

Robust use in difficult environments

Because the card holds the beneficiaries entitlement, and the TouchPoint phone is pre-loaded with all the system details, 99% of all transactions can occur off-line. The details of the card and transaction are stored securely on the phone until comms are available, at which point they are communicated back to the system. A beneficiary can visit many participating traders, at times suitable to them to collect their entitlement. The Plan card app runs on almost any Android phone, but the project use a robust, IP-66 waterproof, dustproof, Dual SIM phone with great battery life. The ubiquity of Android phones now means that these are cheap enough to be replaced if needed, while robust and functional, with added features like GPS and cameras.

More information

if you have any questions or need further information about the PLAN Card sytem, you can contact us on the following:

  • Tinomuzivashe.zhou@plan-international.org (Cell- 0922555079)
  • Fordson.kafweku@plan-international.org (Cell-0922555048)
  • George.otim@plan-international.org (Cell- 0922555046)