Innovations and Technology in Microfinance
In most countries, mobile phone use and point-of-service payment technologies are widespread. By 2020, even smartphones may be universal.
This is transforming the microfinance movement, and FINCA is changing too.
People in poor countries with bad roads, little electricity and no land lines are suddenly connected to the world via mobile phones. Now, instead of traveling two hours to a bank branch, FINCA clients can use their phones to make instant transactions.
FINCA is expanding access to financial services, especially to low-income women and men, through mobile phones. This helps clients to save time and make secure transactions from anywhere.
Examples of mobile innovations being rolled out by FINCA include:
- In Tanzania, 43% of FINCA transactions occur on mobile phones.
- Clients in Pakistan will use mobile apps for banking.
- E-wallet integration is helping clients in Kyrgyzstan direct funds to their accounts.
- In many countries, savings can now be accessed anytime via mobile phones.
In 2012, FINCA launched agency banking in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This innovative method uses local merchants and shopkeepers in areas where FINCA doesn’t have a presence to provide banking services to remote clients. The agents are equipped with portable devices that connect to FINCA’s bank network and bank accounts through biometric fingerprints.
Today, over 75% of all FINCA client transactions in the DRC are done through our proprietary agent network. We’ve expanded these services to the underserved in Tanzania and Zambia, helping many save time and money from the long commute to the bank branch.
Clients in some countries can access their accounts simply by using a fingerprint. This method puts the power to save and transact in the hands of our clients. It provides additional security and reassurance that funds are safe.
Data Collection Innovations
FINCA is piloting the use of handheld tablets to capture household information from clients, allowing for faster and more accurate data collection. The tablets also capture a client’s digital geolocation. With this information, we can accurately map where our clients live and work with respect to our branches, roads, and other infrastructure. This, along with other economic and social data, helps us continuously improve our services.