Swedish retailer H&M joins Better Than Cash Alliance

Swedish retailer, H&M, has joined the United Nations' Better Than Cash Alliance, a partnership of governments, companies and international organisations which aims to accelerate the transition from cash to digital payments.

H&M is the first global fashion brand to join, stating the move will encourage its suppliers to pay their workers through mobile money or other digital forms such as bank accounts or cards to improve the livelihoods of its workforce, enhance transparency and cut factory costs.

"Digital payments are an efficient and scalable way to improve the lives of the employees of our suppliers," said Gustav Loven, H&M social sustainability manager. "They offer a faster, safer and more transparent way for people to receive their salary, increase financial inclusion and support women's economic independence."

H&M stated from the suppliers' perspective, it will enhance transparency and provide more accurate data on their wage management systems.

"H&M Group is taking a bold step in recognizing how cash-heavy supply chains limit efforts to empower workers and prevent companies from increasing transparency," said Dr. Ruth Goodwin-Groen, managing director of the Better Than Cash Alliance. "And it's inefficient. H&M group's leadership will help inspire other companies in the industry, and beyond, to make the shift to digital payments and contribute to inclusive growth, as well as to the Sustainable Development Goals, in emerging markets."

Expanding digital payments to the world's cotton supply chain could potentially reach 250 million people, including smallholder farmers who have limited access to digital payment systems and financial services in general.

The fashion retailer has recently reported an eight percent increase in sales in January 2017, including VAT, in local currencies, compared to the previous corresponding period. The group has also added to its stores and has now amounted to 4,380 as of January 31, 2017 compared to the 3,958 on January 31, 2016.

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