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Mifos Android Client Version 3.0 Now Available on Google Play

Screenshot_20170302-001322We’re happy to announce that our latest version of the Mifos X Android Field Officer App is now available on the Google Play store. This release is a culmination of the efforts of many volunteers and interns over the past year and a half but couldn’t have been possible without the leadership and dedication of Rajan Maurya. He poured his heart into refactoring the codebase and implementing offline functionality during Google Summer of Code and has continued that dedication since then. Through all hours of the night, he’s been continuing to add new features and fix bugs to get this release out to the community.

Work has not stopped as we have a ton of ongoing functionality to add that we’re targeting as a 2017 GSOC Project for Android Field Officer App Version 4.0

Read on for a deep dive on each of the new features but here’s a small snapshot of all the new functionality in Version 3.0:

Technical Enhancements

  • Implementation of Material Design (Thanks to Olya Fomenko!)
  • Refactoring into MVP architecture for improved performance

Functional Enhancements

  • Create center new groups & centers
  • Improved navigation & advanced search
  • Open, approve, and disburse new loan & savings accounts
  • Attach documents to loan & savings accounts.
  • Offline Data Collection & Synchronization
    • Synchronize clients and groups for offline data entry
    • Enter repayments, deposits, and withdrawals while offline
    • Create new clients, loans & savings accounts while offline
  • GIS Features
    • Pinpoint client GPS location
    • Track route of field officer

Thanks to the Contributors

Thank you to all of the following contributors who made this release possible: Rajan Maurya, Ishan Khanna, Olya Fomenko, Mayank Jindal, Tarun Mudgal, Ahmed Fathy, Nelly Kiboi, Illia Andrieiev, Padmal, Vishwajeet Srivastava, Nasim Banu, Chhavi Gupta, İhsan Işık, Vatsal Bajpai, Alex Chege, Justin Du, Prempal Singh, Rowland Oti, Siddhant Kumar Patel, Suhaib Khan, Chashmeet Singh, Ashutosh Dadhich, Aashir Shukla, R Harikrishnan, and Vishwesh Jainkuniya.

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2016 Google Code-In Wrap-up

We had the honor of participating in Google Code-In for the second time this year. Google Code-In is Google’s program to introduce pre-university students to the world of open-source by working on a range of bite-sized (3-5 hour-long) tasks including coding, outreach/research, documentation/training, user interface, and quality assurance.  

In this year’s program, 1,340 students from 62 countries completed 6,418 tasks mentored by 17 different open source organizations. We worked with 34 students who completed 159 tasks. Participation was a bit lower than during our first year in 2014 but we still received many valuable contributions and most importantly made a lasting impact on students by showing them what it’s like to work on an open source project. Read on to learn more about our five finalists and their GCI experiences. 

Coding contributions included enhancements and bug fixes to both our Mifos X web app and Mifos Android Field Officer app. For our documentation, students helped to create training slides, record video tutorials, improve technical docs on our wiki, and update screenshots throughout our user manuals. As we push further into new geographies and pioneer new fintech innovation, the dozens of country market research briefs on financial inclusion and fintech will be immensely valuable. Students even got to try their hand at design by creating wireframes and mockups for our website and mobile self-service app.

Thank you to all the students who participated, thank you to the Google Open Source Programs staff for administering the program and thank you to all our mentors including several new community members. Our mentors this year were Shreyank, Gaurav, Rajan, Prathmesh, Adi, Nikhil, Nayan, Tarun, Mayank, Mohit, Nazeer, Santosh, Simmi, Daniel, and Saransh. Tarun, Mayank, and Rajan were an especially big help with the mobile development tasks we had available.

Read on below for a brief glimpse into our 5 finalists. Our 2 grand prize winners will be going to the Google campus along with their parents for four days in June. They will be joined by one of our mentors. So stay tuned later this summer for a recap of this fun event and amazing rewards for all these students.

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Infrastructure: Mifos X vs. Apache Fineract

As we’ve made the transition to moving development over to our Apache Fineract community, we have added some additional layers of complexity and confusion. We now have multiple mailing lists, multiple issue trackers, and multiple source code repositories. We’ve tried to address these in various webinars and developer meetings but wanted to make clear where you should go to ask questions, where you should go to report issues, and where you should go to grab the source code.

Mifos X versus Apache Fineract

A line of clarity we must first draw is Mifos X vs. Apache Fineract. Prior to the transition to becoming an Apache project, Mifos X was the software platform. From the moment we became an Apache project, Mifos X, the software platform became Apache Fineract. Mifos X now refers to the open source product distribution led by the Mifos Initiative that is built on top of Apache Fineract. Just as Musoni Services provides Musoni System or Conflux Technologies provide Finflux, Mifos X is another distribution on top of Apache Fineract.

The Mifos X distribution is an entire out-of-the-box solution that is a value-added distribution for financial inclusion.  which includes a web app (formerly referred to as community app), a mobile app for field officers, soon a mobile app for clients, reports powered by Pentaho and a data import tool. This distribution is released and available for download via SourceForge from the Mifos.org website. It is directed towards partners and user looking for a readily deployable solution including the Apache Fineract platform, a web user interface, and corresponding mobile apps.

The Apache Fineract is a general core banking system with just the back-end and APIs and no front-end. Developers and Innovators looking to build on Apache Fineract should go directly to GitHub and grab the source code for Apache Fineract (see below).

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Quito Chapter launches first Mifos Chapter in Latin America

Quito Chapter, first meeting.

Last Tuesday, a group of ten people, from different backgrounds, gathered around to have the first meeting of the Quito Chapter, the first Mifos chapter in Latin America. Mifos Chapters are volunteer-led groups to bring together users, partners, and innovators right within their local communities to share ideas, collaborate, and build a flourishing ecosystem. Fill out our Chapter Startup Form if you’d like to launch a chapter in your city. img_5380

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Partner Spotlight – Flexibility

This regular blog series will shine the light on some of our top Partners. Not only do we want to recognize them for their accomplishments, we want others to learn from the approach they’ve taken to promote and implement Mifos.

Mifos Partners are one of the most crucial links in our community – they are the driving force that is promoting and supporting Mifos worldwide.  Aside from championing our product and bringing the Mifos technology to new markets, they act as the fundamental bridge feeding in MFI requirements to be developed by the community. Partners don’t stop there as many are also developing and localizing the product to fit their local market.  For all these reasons, we focus our full energy on making Partners successful – they are the primary channel to market, the eyes and ears on the ground, and the entrepreneurial force that will help us sustainably scale. We’d love to recognize your partner organization in this monthly spotlight so please reach out if you’d like to be featured.

Flexibility was one of our first Mifos partners in Latin America. They have championed Mifos all throughout South and Central America. They have been an active part of our online and local community, speaking at regional events and participating at our first Latam Partner Summit. We look forward to working with them and their highly professional team as they take on new opportunities throughout the region.

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Mifos at the Aciamericas Summit in Uruguay

The Aciamericas event started Tuesday morning. It was powerful to see the gathering of 1200 people from the cooperatives and credit unions sector.

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The day began with an opening ceremony in which Ramón Imperial Zuñiga, Aciamericas president, shared his objectives and points of view on which the cooperative movement should move forward in the next years; the Sustainable Development Goals are at the foundation of the Aciamericas program.

Mifos had its own booth there. The Latam team, along with Argentinian technological partner Flexibility+Ideas, had the chance to spread the Mifos word, explaining what our community is, networking and sharing experiences. Our booth featured the captivating message: “The system banks envy, free in your co-op”

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In the afternoon, we continued the Latam Partners Summit, in which our Community Director, Edward Cable, did a workshop about the community, resources and showcases.

The partners were very interested in this topics, but most especially the showcases with lots of questions coming up and the assurance of some grand new opportunities will come in the future.

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Mifos Latam Partner Summit, First Edition @Montevideo

Throughout this week, Montevideo will host two major events regarding financial inclusion.

The first one is the Latam Cooperatives Summit, organized by Aciamericas: The International Cooperative Alliance, an independent non-governmental organization that brings together, represents and serves cooperative organizations around the world. Mifos is sponsoring the event but we’ll speak to more of that tomorrow.

The second major event is the First-ever Mifos Latam Partner Summit. For the first time, all technological partners from Latam are gathering in the same place for a time to learn and engage more with our Community, and to discuss and share experiences about themselves and their own projects.

Mifos, Flexibility, iOU FinTech, and Jala Group - attendees of Mifos Latam Partner Summit Read more

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Embracing Electronic Money with the Central Bank of Ecuador

Between the 10th and 15th October, our Latam Team was in Ecuador where many things happened.

Quito’s Chapter is taking form and is preparing to host its first meeting. Ma. Luisa Martínez, our Account Manager for Latin America, worked on this throughout the week with Jorge Moncayo, Central Bank of Ecuador’s Financial Inclusion Director and Chairman of Quito’s Chapter.

They started to set the objectives and mission of the Chapter itself and also invited some potential members.

This Chapter not only will develop and discuss about our platform, but it will be a Social Innovation and Technology Hub, where fintechs, developers, innovators, Academia, and subject matter experts can have a seat at the table to discuss, share experiences, work on solutions, and create papers and case studies about Financial Inclusion, Social Innovation and Technology.

Our Strategic Initiatives Director for Latin America, Javier Borkenztain, was a speaker at the International Seminar “Central Bank challenges in the XXI century” hosted and organized by the Central Bank of Ecuador.

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Partner Spotlight – Singo Africa

This regular blog series will shine the light on some of our top Partners. Not only do we want to recognize them for their accomplishments, we want others to learn from the approach they’ve taken to promote and implement Mifos.

Mifos Partners are one of the most crucial links in our community – they are the driving force that is promoting and supporting Mifos worldwide.  Aside from championing our product and bringing the Mifos technology to new markets, they act as the fundamental bridge feeding in MFI requirements to be developed by the community. Partners don’t stop there as many are also developing and localizing the product to fit their local market.  For all these reasons, we focus our full energy on making Partners successful – they are the primary channel to market, the eyes and ears on the ground, and the entrepreneurial force that will help us sustainably scale. We’d love to recognize your partner organization in this monthly spotlight so please reach out if you’d like to be featured.

Singo Africa Limited has been a Mifos partner since August of 2015, bringing their experience deploying IT solutions in the banking and manufacturing industries to the microfinance and SACCO sector. In that time, they’ve quickly made Mifos a recognizable name in Tanzania, promoting the system to more than 70% of the market. They were recently certified by the Registrar of Cooperatives as a Certified Service Provider to the Cooperative Societies with Mifos as the audited solution.

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On the Road in Indonesia …

While in Indonesia for a series of meetings, I had the chance to do my very first site visit for Mifos.

Our host, the Koperasi Kasih Indonesia, welcomed us at their head office in northern Jakarta nearby the container port.

We spent some time with the team to talk about the Koperasi and the procedures and tools they are currently using. Their goal to grow comes with a need to scale their business procedures and make them more efficient, which leads to better support by a back office solution, and the need to eliminate most of the paper intensive work in the field and the inefficient  manual data transfer in the office. By then just words to me.

KKI invited us to take part in a group meeting held at a member’s house … so we hopped on a scooter and off we went.

20160921_130003As we arrived, the group already has gathered and was waiting for us. You could feel happiness and tension all around as the purpose of the meeting was to start a new cycle and disburse loans. The meeting started with a prayer and the KKI pledge shouted by all attendees (including us) in unison.

20160921_132134Then some rustling noise appeared … paper magically came out of nowhere. For me it was hard to believe: attendance lists, application forms (of every member), ID card copies, disbursement sheets, and agreement forms. Given that the meeting was a joint meeting of two groups, there were over 50! pages of paper, at least.

The formal meeting started with an attendance check, followed by an educational training session. After the training, four members were tested to verify that they have understood the purpose of the Koperasi and the meaning of group liability and their own responsibility for the group and all other members.

One group welcomed a new member; she recited the policies aloud, and showed her “Fra20160921_135818me of Dreams” to all. What is a “Frame of Dream” you may ask. It is a blank surface that every member needs to fill with the goals she wants to reach, e.g. education for her children, better housing, or growth of her small enterprise.

This frame is shown to every member of the group because they are now all responsible for these goals (shared liability taken to the next level). The frame serves two purposes, (1) a self-motivation for the member, and (2) an agreement that everybody cares about the dream of all other group members.

Suddenly action entered the room and all attendees started to move around and lined up: disbursement time was here. Every member, one by 20160921_140904one, was sitting in front of KKI’s employee, the loan amount was stated out loud, and then cash was counted and handed over. Every member then signed off the payment in the disbursement sheet and the agreement form.

20160921_140926The closing of the meeting included a prayer and the KKI pledge again.

My take away after that experience is two-fold. There are two ingredients that make this kind of business work, (1) a social component where everybody is responsible for each other and (2) and the technology that allows a broader outreach by easing the pain of handling paper.

Cash, even if we Westerners are moving away from it, still has some value. It is something you can feel, which is more than simply the money itself. There is some hidden message in cash that could not be erased by electronic money, a transition needs to be made to distinguish between money and expectations/feelings.  

As a techie, my first reaction was that we can solve all this with decent technology. After seeing what really happens, I realized that technology can not replace a group meeting, rather technology needs to assist the social bonding by providing a solution that allows the employee to focus more on the group, instead of handling large amounts of paper, and other mundane details and error checking.

Technology needs to enhance the social experience, not replace it.

-Markus Geiss, Chief Architect