Mifos is a 2021 MIT Solver Team!

I’m delighted to announce that Mifos has been selected as one of the seven Solver Teams for the 2021 MIT Solve Global Challenge for Digital Inclusion. 

The digital inclusion category was one of the most competitive ones with 430 applicants from 74 countries so recognition from MIT and the esteemed panel of judges is great validation of our approach guiding a community delivering open source banking building blocks to enable financial services to be embedded everywhere and anywhere. 

As a member of the Solver community, MIT will be connecting us with a wide range of resources and showcasing our solution to a broad audience of potential funders and strategic partners so we are eager to see all doors this will help to open up and the scale we can unlock. 

Already in just the first week, the in-kind resources have helped us start pursuing some additional opportunities and several valuable introductions leading to potentially fruitful partnerships have been made. 

We are looking forward to the collaboration and collective growth Mifos and our fellow cohorts will embark on through the program. Members of our cohort are working on “exciting solutions that provide access to the internet for the billions who remain disconnected, access to financial tools for businesses and entrepreneurs around the world, and culturally relevant digital literacy tools to enable participation in the digital economy.” 

The 2021 Solver Class for Digital Inclusion includes: 

Watch our finalist pitch here!

Read more

Showcasing the Fineract Ecosystem at ApacheCon

ApacheCon 2021 is underway and a big shout out to Javier Borkenztain from Fiter for organizing the Fineract Fintech track with a diverse range of speakers and panelist from within the community and beyond. A huge thank you to Rich Bowen and all the volunteers for coordinating an inclusive and engaging virtual event. Once again I’m looking forward to the second-ever Fineract track as a great means to:

  • Showcase and highlight Mifos & Fineract adopters, and the breadth of use cases the platform has been able to support
  • Explore the evolution of the community and how we can grow and adapt to enable more widespread participation and upstream contribution to enable a virtuous cycle.
  • Practically discuss how to enhance and evolve the platform to meet the growing scalability and performance requirements as more and more digital banks and fintechs adopt the platform as well as expand the functional footprint to support broader and deeper verticals
  • Take a glimpse into the future of Fineract and the innovations around AI, the cloud, mobile, digital identity, decentralized finance, central bank digital currencies and more that will shape the future of financial services.

Register below as attendance for all the sessions and networking is free.

Over the past year, as the Mifos Initiative has worked more directly with innovative financial institutions and fintechs to build out their solutions on Fineract, we have seen firsthand the immense opportunity and need for the platform. We are endorsing a broader mission of democratizing financial services and embracing our long-standing position of making core banking commoditized infrastructure that enables financial services to be embedded anywhere and everywhere.

It’s always great to see cross-pollination with other communities so I’m looking forward to the participation from other exemplary members of the open source community like Graham McBain from Moov, Joseph Jacks from OS Capital, and Kelly Switt from Red Hat, and Kanchana Welagedara from JP Morgan and FINOS. 

Read more

Mifos is a Finalist for the 2021 MIT Solve Global Challenge

We’re pleased to announce that Mifos has been selected as a finalist out of more than 1800 applicants for the 2021 MIT Solve Global Challenge for Digital Inclusion. 

Register and attend the Virtual Solve Challenge Finals livestream where the panel of judges will complete their evaluations of the pitches from the finalists and announce the 2021 Solver class on September 17. 

Recognition as a finalist is great validation of our approach to bring financial services to 3 billion underbanked by providing a set of open source banking building blocks to enable financial services to be embedded anywhere and everywhere. 

However being selected as a Solver would open the doors to new partnerships and give us access to resources and strategic advisors that would help unlock new scale and potential for our initiative. 

Check out our submission on MIT Solve and take a minute of your time to vote for Mifos as the Community Award winner – voting closes September 17 at 130pm ET.

Read more

Mifos Welcomes Advisor, Deepa Prahalad

Next up, we are thrilled to announce our newest oncoming member of our board of business and technical advisors, Deepa Prahalad. As an advisor, Deepa will be focusing a majority of her time on design, storytelling, and communication in order to build a more tight-knit community around the Mifos Initiative. Deepa believes that paying attention to aspirations can often create a faster adoption and widespread impact which is usually overlooked in the process of making things affordable. What motivated Deepa to become an advisor was the mission behind the Mifos Initiative: “Creating tools for financial inclusion for billions of unbanked and under-banked people around the world”. She believes that this is a crucial part of creating opportunity and prosperity for future generations.

With a political science and economics background, a specific skill-set Deepa plans to bring to the Mifos Initiative is combining the macro-level understanding of trends with deep dives into consumer mindsets and aspirations. Deepa says that “bringing both of these elements directly into the design of an organization’s products and services is what can maximize profit and impact”. Deepa’s deep knowledge in strategy and design will go hand in hand to reach these goals.

When asked about the most critical action we can take to end global poverty, Deepa responded with:

“It’s natural to want to provide ‘solutions’, but most social challenges like poverty are extremely complex.  I think Muhammad Ali made a great point when he said, ‘It’s not the mountains in the distance that wear people down – it’s the pebble in your shoe.’ People are not waiting passively to be ‘saved’, even when they are in desperate circumstances.  They are usually trying to solve their own problems.  A lot of the inequality we see around the world reflects a lack of choices, not a lack of awareness.  The impact that organizations have on society is huge because they expand the range of choices we have.  This is where business can really make the world a better place.”

In the short time we’ve been working with Deepa she’s already stimulated some great ideas and creative strategies to grow our community. One such project that she’s helping us launch is our Mifos 2030 Vision Campaign. We will paint a clear picture of how we envision the world as we see it in 2030 and invite the rest of the community and ecosystem in sharing their own commitment to how they personally can make that vision a reality. We will be formally unveiling it soon but it will be a powerful campaign and strategic vision for our initiative that will tell a powerful story of what we’ve accomplished to date including testimonials from our community, set key milestones and benchmarks our community will aspire to in alignment with the UN SDG of No Poverty by 2030, and establish an actionable roadmap with commitments from partners which will guide our community.

Read more

Mifos Welcomes Advisor, Allison Baller

We are excited to formally announce the newest member of our board of business and technical advisors, Allison Baller. Allison provides the relevant experience and knowledge of the global fintech market to make an immediate impact here at the Mifos Initiative. As a new member of the Mifos Advisory Board, Allison is motivated and passionate about exploring new ways to leverage technology and build innovative business models for financial health which will make a difference globally for the underserved.

A unique skill set Allison hopes to bring to the Mifos Initiative as an advisor is her strong interest and experience with “the customer”, and the ability to develop new business models often with emerging technology and a passion for creating innovative partnerships. Allison has had the opportunity to fine tune these skills from her 2 decades of experience engaging with Banks, Telecommunications companies, and retailers and Fintechs across emerging markets in Latin America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Allison says that she is “especially excited to engage in some of the Mifos endeavors in Latin America”. That being said, Allison is happy to work on any project in any market as well.

Here’s a bit more on Allison:  Allison serves as the Vice President and Head of Industry Readiness for the FedNow Service, a near real-time payment and settlement service under development by the Federal Reserve Banks to support instant payments in the United States. Baller helps facilitate industry readiness specifically focused on adoption and innovation through partnerships across the ecosystem of Banks, Payment Service Providers, and Fintechs. Prior to joining the Federal Reserve, Baller spent more than two decades at IBM, where she held various global leadership roles in blockchain, cloud, and emerging payments. Her career has focused on building new business models and accelerating the transformation from cash to digital payments across Financial Services, Telecommunications, and Retail.

When asked about the most critical action we can take to end global poverty, Baller responded with this list:

  1. “An ability to foster strong public-private partnerships”
  2. “The need to ensure we develop sustainable business models to support financial health across nations”
  3. “Strong education and marketing communication”
  4. “Incentives to spur new ideas which build upon emerging technology and the latest innovations with open standards on a global platform”

We are eager to work with Allison in executing upon that list and already have a number of projects in mind that she can help to steward including:

  • Sustainability of the initiative by enabling more self-funded revenue derived from the value being created by fintechs across our ecosystem.
  • Development of the ecosystem, especially around the market-readiness of solution providers, with a focus on mobile wallets and payments interoperability
  • Positioning and branding for Mifos Initiative –  translating from our current developer-centric orientation to a narrative that aligns with global funders and partners that could catalyze and support our efforts.

An interesting fact about Allison is that she has always had a passion for exploring new markets and making a difference to improve lives around the world.

“I have many fond memories and I have learned a lot from my experience in diverse countries including Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, the Philippines, Thailand, Cuba, and many others. My love for diverse cultures, languages, and adventure stemmed from spending time studying and exploring Central America, followed by my first “real job” which I held while living in Venezuela in the early 90’s”

Please help in welcoming in Allison to the Mifos Community! We thank her for providing her time and knowledge to help the initiative.

 

 

Powered by Mifos – SoftiDoc

This regular blog series will showcase partners and the innovative solutions they’ve built that are powered by the Apache Fineract and Mifos X platforms. These case studies will demonstrate your solution to end users who are seeking to use them as well as show other partners in the community how they too can leverage the Apache Fineract platform to build their own solutions powered by an open source core banking infrastructure.

 

Traditionally lending has been a slow & complex process, filled with manual interventions. SoftiDoc’s technology aims to drastically change the loan disbursal process, bringing transparency, cutting down on the time & effort to grant loans. This is achieved by levering cutting edge AI & the banking solutions offered by Mifos. 

SoftiDoc uses optical character recognition to read bank statements uploaded by users. These statements are then processed by machine learning models to assess the loan eligibility of the customer. All these services are tied together by Mifos, which provides all the traditional banking requirements from a digital disbursal to a digital ledger for seamless integration.

Business Meets Technology!   

Overview of the Team/Company

SoftiDoc is an AI solutions provider specialising in a boutique of products to achieve financial inclusion. They specialise in application development & complex system integration leveraging artificial intelligence to address banking challenges and needs. SoftiDoc has leveraged MIFOS to develop a digital core banking system that incorporates their AI prebuilt boutique components.

SoftiDoc was started by Jeremy Engelbrecht in April 2020. Jeremy has a range of experience in the finance industry working in various roles through the years. He has a masters in computer, data science from the University of Liverpool. He has leveraged his experience & knowledge of Neural Networks to kick start SoftiDoc with 5 developers.

Read more

Digital Public Good Alliance Launches Five Year Strategy

The Digital Public Goods Alliance (DGPA) is launching its flagship 5 year strategy that guides not only the Alliance itself, but lays the groundwork for collaboration with  governments, industry, the UN, civil society, and more. The DPGA is a globally distributed, multi-stakeholder alliance working to accelerate the attainment of the sustainable development goals in low- and middle-income countries by facilitating the discovery, development, use of, and investment in digital public goods.

“DPGs represent an unprecedented opportunity to fundamentally alter power balances and knowledge asymmetries by enabling countries to access cutting edge features by default, drive their own digital transformation processes, and grow their local ecosystems to derive value.”

Liv Marte Nordhaug from the Norwegian Agency for International Development Cooperation and Lucy Harris from UNICEF’s Office of Innovation, co-leads of  the DPGA Secretariat, the Alliance’s central coordinating body, have penned a blog post sharing their vision for the DPGA and will be launching this during a Zoom webinar on June 29 at 830am EDT.

This past December we announced that Mifos and Fineract had been recognized as Highlighted Digital Public Goods as part of the Financial Inclusion Community of Practice. Throughout the course of 2021, we’ve had the honor of participating in monthly roundtables with the other DPGs and are pleased to have Mifos and Fineract included in the Financial Inclusion DPGs Digital Public Infrastructures Final Report that is also being formally published at this event.

Since our origins nearly two decades ago, Mifos has been a pioneer in a humanitarian free and open source software. We’ve been honored to a be a part of the Digital Public Goods Alliance and the tremendous work it’s doing to define digital public goods, align development sector focus around them, cultivate the ecosystem for them to flourish, and catalyze new innovation by leveraging them as foundational infrastructure. 

Read more

Meet the 2021 Google Summer of Code Interns for Apache Fineract

After the long and difficult year that 2020 provided us with, we are excited to announce some positive news as we are kicking off our 2021 Google Summer of Code! Our community is grateful to be participating in this exceptional 18 year old program for the 10th year. This year, we will have a class of 5 extraordinary interns participating in GSOC as a sub-organization under the umbrella of the Apache Software Foundation. The Mifos Initiative looks forward to participating in GSOC directly in 2022. Although our class is smaller than previous years, the talent and knowledge they provide is unmatched. These 5 GSOC interns will be focusing their time and efforts on Fineract and Fineract CN.

This year is a little bit different since we have a smaller group of interns and a new streamlined version of GSOC that Google is testing out, but don’t let that fool you on the amount of quality work they can get done. Working with a smaller intern class will allow us to work closer with the interns, and provide them with a greater deal of attention and feedback. That being said, we are beyond excited to see the improvements they will be making this summer that we can incorporate within our own work here at the Mifos Initiative. This year, we will have two interns working on our mobile apps for Fineract CN – Fineract CN Mobile and Mobile Wallet for Fineract CN, one intern working on our machine learning credit scorecard, one intern working on the Android SDK for Fineract 1.x, and one intern working on the Fineract backlog and collateral management module.

First, we will have 2 steller interns working to improve different aspects of some of the mobile apps. Varun Jain will be working on functional enhancements to the Fineract CN Mobile app. Specifics on the project include integrating the Payment Hub to enable the disbursement, making use of the GSMA Mobile Money API, adding a task management feature to the app, implementing UI and functionality for creating new accounts and tellers and displaying those detail, improving the offline functionality of the application via Couchbase database support, and improving the GIS features in the app such as location tracking. Varun will be supported in his efforts by his mentors, Ahmad Jawid Muhammadi and Rajan Maurya. Our other mobile app intern for Fineract CN, Kinar Sharma, will be building out a version of the mobile wallet that natively connects to Fineract CN. With support from his mobile development mentors, Devansh Aggarwal, Garvit Agarwal, and Shivansh Tiwari, he’ll be working with the Fintecheando team who will be adding additional APIs in Fineract CN to provide secure self-service operations that can be directly consumed by the new mobile wallet app.

Our next intern, Danish Jamal, will be working on the Android SDK and Fineract Client Project under the mentorship of  Chinmay Kulkarni and Shashank Priyadarshi. The project focuses on simplifying and automating the post processes of SDK generation, such as adding moustache templates to configure the code and add the missing utils and service files automatically. Some plans Danish has for the project include updating the client SDK release using Fineract 1.5.0, improving documentation of the SDK, and then integrating the SDK in the Mifos android-client application.

For our Machine Learning and Credit Scorecard project, we will have our impressive intern, Yemdjih Nasser, focusing his time and efforts improving the credit score system from the previous years. During  the summer, Nasser will be refactoring and patching work from previous years, productionizing the scorecard module, integrating the scorecard in Fineract 1.x/Mifos, implementing credit risk scoring with H20.ai, and then documenting the scorecard service. Nasser will be helped this summer by a team of mentors including Lalit Mohan, Aaashish Sawhney, Abhijit Ramesh, Jeremy Engelbrecht and Rahul Goel. 

Our last phenomenal intern, Benura Abeywardena, will be working on a number of tasks related to making Fineract more performant and robust by tackling issues in the Fineract backlog.  He has already been churning out fixes for a number of functionalities across the loan, client and accounting module but will dedicated most of his project around the long-awaited collateral management module. Benura will be working under the mentorship of Bharath Gowda and Chaitanya Nuthalapati on the functional side and Manthan Surkar and Sanyam Goel on technical side.

Read on for a brief professional intro for each intern and their project and stay tuned for our second round of posts introducing some fun facts about each intern. Feel free to find them on the lists or Gitter and welcome them to the community. Throughout the summer, we’ll have showcases of their work during the community meetings. 

Read more

Mifos Participates in ISO 20022 Hackathon for Cross-Border Payments

This past week, we had the pleasure of participating in the ISO 20022 Hackathon for Cross-Border Payments hosted by the BIS Innovation Hub & Swift. Thanks to Istvan Molnar and the team from DPC along with Godfrey Kutumela for their participation. 

While our submission, Enabling Last-Mile Cross-Border Payments through Mojaloop and Mifos Payment Hub, wasn’t selected as a winner, pulling it together helped us further crystallize our positioning and long-term vision for how our end to end open source stack with open APIs at the infrastructure and application layers can fuel vibrant digital economies. Our articulation showed how far our Payment Hub EE and our integration with Mojaloop has come since we embarked on the initial project led by DIAL

At the heart of our solution for the hackathon was our open source Payment Hub EE which provides the bridge and orchestration engine which transforms messages from the ISO 20022 standard to the Mojaloop format, providing an API-driven architecture that can use ISO 20022 protocols in collaboration with mobile money for last-mile delivery of payments.  

 

Our demonstration showcased a remittance flow from a Payer on a SEPA Instant network into the Payee at a bank in Africa that participates in both networks. From there, using the rich data of ISO 20022 standard and the interoperability of the Mojaloop API, one can envision advanced use cases like for-purpose remittances, merchant, biller and MFI requests to pay, and bulk G2P payments with recourse and confirmation to the beneficiary. 

 

Our congratulations go out to the Mojaloop team that was one of the three winners of the hackathon. We’re eager to see how this recognition of Mojaloop can help accelerate their efforts to harmonize the Mojaloop API protocols with the data-rich ISO 20022 messaging standards. 

Payment Hub EE is under active development and we look forward to adoption and contribution across the Mifos, Mojaloop and ISO 20022 communities. There is great potential in building upon this open stack and utilizing these globally adopted APIs and standards. With Mifos, Fineract, Mojaloop, and OpenG2P all recognized by the Digital Public Goods Alliance as foundational digital public goods for the Financial Inclusion Community of Practice, we’re eager to identify organizations that would like to be a part of a reference implementation of these building blocks.