The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will provide $100,000 to organizations that promote the use of digital payments for the poor.

The grants are part of the foundation's Grand Challenges Explorations Initiative, which was launched in 2008 to fund innovative ideas for improving health in developing countries.

The current funding round focuses, in part, on increasing the use of mobile payments by small merchants in communities at or near the poverty level.

"The majority of transactions conducted by poor and low-income people still take place using cash — including within the small merchant community," Konstantin Peric, a deputy director at the foundation, said in a blog post announcing the program.

The foundation is accepting applications for the Grand Challenges initiative through Nov. 12.