Ok, this is amazing. Togo, in 10 days in April, rolled out a program to pay it’s poorest citizens a bi-weekly amount directly through their phones. The program identified the neediest recipients through a combination of a machine learning algorithm that associated satellite imagery of roof materials, road types and so on with phone usage stats like amount of credit top-ups, etc to send text messages to the neediest inviting participation and asking a couple of verification questions. It matched the phone to voter id records, then within three minutes or so made the first direct payment to the recipient.
Three minutes. Four or five questions over SMS. Micro-targeted to those who needed it most. Fully automatic, trackable, auditable.
With the collaboration of a team from uc berkeley, northwestern, and a non profit cash distribution service.
This is Togo, people. Let’s get these people to port the system to the US and throw out all the paper checks, overstressed unemployment systems, Congressional bickering, …