Thursday, October 22, 2009

Technology Trends in the Financial Inclusion Market

MHFC recently visited a technology conference in Hyderabad that showcased existing and emerging technology in the financial inclusion sector. The conference was attended by leading technology players such as IBM and Infrasoft technologies that have designed robust IT systems to support the Micro Finance Industry. They all seem to have leveraged their in house core banking technologies (which they have developed for regular banks) and have adapted them for the micro finance market.

The adaption process is truly fascinating. Most technology companies have started providing their CBD solutions to their clients in a Saas( Software as a service) model. This greatly reduces the sunk costs incurred by a budding MFI while allowing it to leverage all the essential core banking functionality it needs to operate.The Saas approach is single handedly the most beneficial service the tech companies are providing to MFI.

While the Saas model mainly deals with the back end processes, the implementation of technology at the frond end of the MFI operation is remarkable. In this case we were really impressed by the work FINO has done in this arena. They have designed and implemented mobile banking systems using the ubiquitous bluetooth enabled mobile phone (costing less than 80$) and integrated front end processes such as collections, disbursements, and loan management that were earlier completely detached and required manual data entry in order for them to be synced up with the core banking systems.

All in all it was a great conference, where I got to learn a lot about the processes and system being used by leading MFI today. Now we have the hard task to decide how best to leverage these wide array of technologies in order to meet challanges that MHFC will face in the coming years.

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