Digital Payments for Urban Resilience: Key Learnings from Cities 

Date: 2 Nov 2023

The Future Ready Cities program aims to inspire cities around the world to harness the power of digital solutions to face their urban challenges.

From 2020-22, the program supported Guadalajara, Mexico; Quito, Ecuador; and Salvador, Brazil, to implement digital payment solutions that improve public transportation experiences, support urban farmers, and improve digital and financial literacy for women. In 2023, Montevideo and Panama City embarked on their own journey to advance urban resilience through digital solutions.

To better understand the root causes of their challenges and match them to solutions, cities engaged multiple stakeholders, explored solutions with strategic partners, and are now in the process of testing and scaling these solutions.

In Montevideo, the city is exploring how local economic dynamics and other variables can be used to generate insights that contribute to city resilience by improving the process of building license approvals and urban planning. By cross-referencing payment data with other data sources, Montevideo will be able to address some of the most critical questions for the city’s urban development, including the deficit of urban services in different city areas, the economic dynamics generated by social housing projects, mobility trends within the city, and emerging economic hubs and trends around these areas, among others.

Panama City is digitalizing the payment systems of local markets to strengthen businesses and increase the resilience of Panama City’s commercial systems. Through the deployment of these solutions, starting with two municipal markets, San Felipe Neri and the Seafood Market, Panama City will help strengthen the position of these markets as logistical hubs for the distribution of basic consumer goods. It will also increase market competitiveness and improve access and usage of financial services for merchants, while at the same time providing a safer, more reliable, and more seamless experience for customers, including tourists.

Both cities are tackling different challenges in unique contexts, but their digital transformation journeys offer valuable shared lessons on what is needed to build resilient and inclusive Future Ready Cities that we hope will inspire cities worldwide.

Digital Cities are Ready Cities

Promoting the digitalization of payments across sectors not only facilitates the optimization of operations but can also be a valuable source of information for public policy formulation.

Tailored Solutions for Common Challenges

While cities worldwide face common challenges, only by comprehensively understanding the problem and the unique capacities at our disposal can we develop tailored, adaptative, and effective solutions.

Data-driven Urban Planning

Taking advantage of urban economic trends can empower the development of agile solutions to optimize city planning and management, allowing cities to anticipate evolving needs and elevate the quality of life in dynamic urban landscapes.

Inclusive Design for Effective Solutions

Diversity is the lifeblood of urban environments, and it is essential to include all voices in the transformation process. At every stage, from perception and exploration to testing and scaling.

Innovative Use of Existing Tools

By cultivating a mindset of creativity and collaboration among diverse stakeholders, cities can identify novel applications of existing tools and harness their full potential to create innovative solutions that improve urban life.

Digital Cities are Resilient Cities

Advanced digital infrastructure equips cities with the tools to anticipate, respond to and recover from emerging urban challenges. By democratizing access to digital payments, communities are also better prepared to withstand crises.


What is Urban Resilience?

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