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Bryan Barnett on The Supervisory Challenges of Financial Inclusion

bryan-barnettBryan Barnett has been one of the long-time advisors to the Mifos Initiative. We’re fortunate to have his insight and guidance in helping us shape how we can build open standards for innovation and open source digital financial services platforms to improve transparency, increase the effectiveness of regulation and ensure high consumer protection.

Recently he published an informative and eye-opening post to the Alliance for Financial Inclusion blog in his role as Banking Advisor to the U.S. Treasury, Office of Technical Assistance. His post, The Supervisory Challenges of Financial Inclusionclosely examines the growing challenges that regulators faces in both developing the rules and regulations to govern the authorization and operations of financial inclusion providers as well as supervising those institutions to ensure regulations are followed and risks are addressed.

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Mifos in Indonesia

Hello Mifos Community!

This past week, the Indonesia Fintech Festival and Conference 2016 took place in Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia. The conference is a joint event between the Financial Services Authority (OJK) and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin). Although the conference is based on fintech, there was a special focus on Financial Inclusion this year, as technology continues to transform Financial Inclusion.

The conference was two days and covered topics including “Improving Financial Inclusion Through Fintech”, “Accelerate Financial Sector With Fintech”, “Digital Currencies”, and many more.

Mifos had an exciting presence at the Indonesia Fintech Festival and Conference this year.

Steven Hodgson, Director of Kanopi, was present at the conference. Kanopi has been a partner with Mifos for a long time and is working on deploying the Mifos platform within Indonesia.

Mifos was also present through BTPN. BTPN is a financial institution in Indonesia that has been using Mifos since we were a project with the Grameen Foundation (roughly 5 years ago). They are still using Mifos and have around 2 million clients processing around 630,000 transactions per day.

In a country with significant mobile adoption and devotion to financial technology, there is a great opportunity to reach the unbanked. It’s amazing to see the Mifos community come together like it has in Indonesia, joining partners, financial institutions, and ordinary people together to promote Financial Inclusion for everybody.

 
-Jacob Kobzi, Business Development Intern

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Welcome to Seattle – SolDevelo!

Hello Everyone!

This past weekend, one of our premier early partners, SolDevelo (http://www.soldevelo.com), opened their Seattle office, expanding all the way from Poland. To celebrate the event, they were kind enough to invite some former members from the Grameen Foundation and the Mifos team to attend their opening celebration. I, Drew Fass, was lucky enough to be the Mifos guest of honor.

The Mifos Initiative began as an open source project under the Grameen Foundation. The Grameen Foundation was formed by Alex Counts, to further the mission of Grameen Bank and Muhammad Yunus, who won the Nobel Prize for his pioneering efforts in microfinance. HiIMG_0063s method of Grameen Joint Style Liability lending, in which all the women in a community were jointly responsible for everyone else paying off their loan, is what our first generation of Mifos software supported. SolDevelo was a key contributor in our shift out of the Grameen Foundation into our own non-profit. They were also pivotal players in the ongoing evolution of Mifos 2, our first generation of our open source platform. Since then, they’ve continued to work closely with the Grameen Foundation and other international development NGOs on the West Coast.

After arriving at their office, I was welcomed by a group of other SolDevelo supporters, including some key Mifos contributors from back when the project was under the tutelage of the Grameen Foundation. These members included Adam Monsen, Software Engineer and Kay Chau, Technical Program Manager. It was great to see that even 5 years from our departure from the Grameen Foundation that it’s original members are still able to connect over common ground.

All in all, it was a wonderful day at SolDevelo’s new headquarters. We would like to thank Krystian and Jakub for their hospitality and we wish them the best of luck in future endeavors.  

Welcome to Seattle!

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Luisa’s Extended Stay in Ecuador


After the Mifos Innovation Team finished their week in Ecuador, Luisa had the opportunity to stay in Pindal to hold a couple more meetings. Pindal is a small town in Ecuador that borders Peru. Even though it is composed of just 6000 people, it produces 90% of the corn in Ecuador. Luisa was joined by the Assistant Director of Banco Desarrollo, Juan Carlos Aguirre, to experience first-hand the effect that the Electronic Money system wo20160719_125711uld have on these rural areas.

Luisa and Juan first met with Pablo Saritama, the manager of Banco Desarrollo in Pindal. They discussed the various types of loans that would be implemented using Mifos, similar to the conversation that the team had at the Banco Desarrollo headquarters.

After the meeting with Banco Desarrollo, Luisa and Juan then met with the Corn Producers Association. They were able to answer questions and gain valuable insight from the corn producers regarding what kind of loans were needed and which loans work best. Luisa and Juan were able to explain Mifos and the Electronic Money System and everyone there seemed excited and willing to embrace this new system.

Signing off,

Jacob Kobzi, Business Development Intern

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Friday in Ecuador

Friday, July 15th, 2016

IMG_0332After a week of work, the Mifos Innovation team has seen it’s last day in Ecuador.

The team met with the Dinero Electronico team in order to discuss regulations. Dinero Electronico saw eye-to-eye on the prospect of providing nano loans as a financial service. They also directed us to the right people to talk to next.

That was the last meeting for the team’s week in Ecuador. The Mifos Initiative is extremely excited for what the future holds and we are looking forward to making the vision of Financial Inclusion 2.0 a reality.

-Jacob Kobzi, Business Development Intern

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Thursday in Ecuador

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

The week is almost over but the Mifos Innovation team is still hard at work in Ecuador.

The day started with the Innovation Team meeting with an organization that oversees a network of cooperatives. The biggest takeaway from the meeting is that the organization sees the value that the MifoIMG_0404s Financial Inclusion Cloud can bring to their network of financial institutions.

Then, the team met with the IT director from CONAFIPS, an organization responsible for providing support to cooperatives. They put us in contact with some of their cooperatives so that we can discuss our future with the financial institutions directly.

The team then met with Banco Desarrollo to discuss value-chain financing and nano loans further. The team also talked briefly about the integration of accounting services in the Mifos platform. Although it is going to take a little longer to get specific details out of the way, the team is working through the complexities to make the vision of Financial Inclusion 2.0 a reality.

Luisa, a member of the Innovation Team, will officially be traveling to Pindal, Ecuador to observe the entire value-chain financing production. On Monday, she will be meeting with a cooperative to clarify the best configuration of the core banking system to match their needs. She will also be interviewed at Impacto about the Electronic Money System. Javier had two more interviews today, one on TV and the other on the radio.

Tomorrow will be the last day for the Mifos Innovation Team on this week-long trip to Ecuador and we look forward to telling you all about it.

-Jacob Kobzi, Business Development Intern

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Wednesday in Ecuador

Wednesday, July 14, 2016

The Mifos Innovation Team has finished their 3rd day of work in their trip to Ecuador. Javier started Wednesday off strong with yet another interview on TV. He discussed the benefits that Electronic Money can have on Financial Inclusion. He also discussed the integration of mobile money within the Mifos Platform.

The team then joined with one of our technology partners and met with the leading social-m2016-07-14-PHOTO-00000062ission bank in Ecuador. The team met for two hours discussing the Mifos operational model and giving demos of how the system will function. The leadership within the bank is eager to move forward with the Mifos Financial Inclusion Cloud!

Before the day was over, the team joined the audience of about 200 youth to listen to one of our team members, Luisa, give a talk. Luisa was talking on behalf of an organization called Global Shapers, and sharing her story to inspire others to create opportunities for themselves. Luisa’s talk was very inspiring, and a fantastic way to end the third day of the trip!

-Jacob Kobzi, Business Development Intern

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Tuesday in Ecuador

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

The Mifos innovation team saw no lack of action on their second day in Ecuador. After a busy first day, they got right back to work with multiple meetings and interviews scheduled for day 2.
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Javier started the day off presenting to SEPS, a regulator for cooperatives. The members of SEPS were very intrigued by our operational model. Then it was on to the next meeting with Banco Desarrollo to discuss some specifics on how our model is going to tie in perfectly with their financial organizations and cooperatives in place. In particular, our team discussed how nano loans and value-chain financing was going to work with our platform.

Javier had to leave the meeting with Banco Desarrollo early, since he had scheduled interviews he had to attend. He had two interviews on live television and another on the radio with FM Mundo 98.1. You can see Javier in the photo to the right in the middle of his interview!

Soon enough, it was time f20160712_195945or the Mifos Innovation Team to regather and meet with the Ministry of Economic Policy. They met with two high government officials who in turn put us in contact with dozens of other valuable individuals. After talking with them briefly about mobile wallets, the team was off to meet with Level 3, a worldwide provider of data centers. Our team was astounded by the coverage of the data centers and is happy to partner with them to launch the Mifos Financial Inclusion Cloud in Ecuador.

The end of the day came after another brief meeting with IOU Fintech. The team has found that the excitement in Ecuador is contagious. Everyone is on board and ready to announce Financial Inclusion 2.0 in Ecuador. We’ll keep you updated on all that happens in the coming days!

-Jacob Kobzi, Business Development Intern

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Monday in Ecuador

Monday, 11 July 2016

The Mifos Innovation team of  Ed Cable, Javier Borkenztain, and Luisa Martínez,  landed in Ecuador today for an exciting week of work. Right off the bat, the team had their schedule booked. To start the day, they met with Carlos Córdova from IOU Fintech to be introduced to his team as  well as briefed for tomorrow’s mCnG1fDOW8AAk_fveeting. Carlos can be seen in the picture to the right presenting his plan for emoney in Ecuador.

After a short break, the team then had two meetings with the Central Bank of Ecuador, one with their technical team and the other with their public relations team.

Finally, the innovation team regrouped at Impacto, the social impact hub for Ecuador. Impacto has doubled in size since the last time the Mifos team visited Ecuador!

Long story short, the process of bringing Financial Inclusion 2.0 to Ecuador has began, yet there is so much more to come. In the following days, Javier, a member of our innovation team, has 8 interviews scheduled about the Mifos Financial Inclusion Cloud. He has 2 on TV, 1 on the radio, and one with the newspaper just tomorrow. There is still much more to be done and we look forward to filling you in with what happens each day of our trip.

-Jacob Kobzi, Business Development Intern

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Summiting the Silicon Mountain in Cameroon

ayukThis a guest post from Ayuk Etta Akum, the CEO and Founder of Skylabase which is an IT Company in Cameroon, Africa that provides technologies for financial inclusion.

A year ago, I discovered financial inclusion, the movement to end poverty in the world. Then I decided to build my company on this movement. The beauty of financial inclusion is the ability to make a very large change in the world in a very critical sector with the least technology possible. For us to embark on this journey we needed years of experience from experts and key players in this movement and we discovered this in the Mifos Initiative, a key player in the world today for the financial inclusion movement. They opened to us a door of experience to meet people with over 50 years experience in the credit union movement, finance experts, banking experts, and a complete banking engine to start from.

The hard part was for us to be open and join the movement by seriously engaging in the community, and from this came Smartfinance which is a centralized and extendable banking platform for credit unions, microfinance institutions, and banks. Our goal and vision of smartfinance is for it to be the microfinance platform for Cameroon and CEMAC region of Africa and ultimately move across Africa. Our partnership with the Mifos Initiative helped us to come out with a platform that will be the future of finance management in Cameroon and the CEMAC region in Africa. We are integrating into this platform mobile money, money transfer, USSD connectors, all the features to make Smartfinance a full-fledged banking platform while giving back to the Mifos Initiative community. Read more