RECOVR Webinar Series | The Digitization of Cash Assistance During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Colombia

RECOVR Webinar Series | The Digitization of Cash Assistance During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Colombia

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This webinar is part of IPA's RECOVR Webinar Series: Bringing Evidence to COVID-19 Policy Responses in the Global South. Together with our partners, we are using this series to rapidly share what we are learning with the policy and research community to support evidence-informed response efforts. More information about other events in the series is available here.

New research has shown that cash assistance has the power to help recipients navigate the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdowns. In Colombia, new cash transfer programs were rolled out to millions of beneficiaries in record time, thanks to mobile money and other digital channels which allowed the government to quickly distribute aid.

On December 15, 2020, this webinar presented findings from one of the first randomized evaluations of a digital cash transfer program during the pandemic, the case of the VAT Compensation program in Colombia. This research explores the impacts of cash transfers on a range of outcomes such as financial health, food access and security, and political attitudes. Moreover, the webinar shared data on the impact of digitization on beneficiary behavior during quarantine, barriers to new technology adoption by beneficiaries, and implications for the digitization of future cash transfer programs. 

Researchers Juliana Londoño-Vélez (UCLA) and Pablo Querubín (NYU) presented on the evaluation design and the study’s findings. Olga Lucia Romero (National Planning Department, Colombia) then discussed the study's policy implications and how policymakers are utilizing such empirical findings to assess the impacts of government assistance during COVID-19 and plan for long-term economic recovery. Rebecca Rouse (IPA Financial Inclusion Program) moderated a discussion and Q&A following the presentations.

To learn more about this study, read the full summary here and the paper here.

Watch the webinar recording below:


  • Juliana Londoño-Vélez, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Pablo Querubín, Associate Professor of Politics and Economics, New York University
  • Olga Lucia Romero, Director of Monitoring and Evaluation of Public Policies, National Planning Department, Government of Colombia
  • Rebecca Rouse (Moderator), Director, Financial Inclusion Program, Innovations for Poverty Action




United States