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. 

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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.

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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.

 

 

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. 

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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. 

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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. 

Mifos 2020 Year in Review

Take a look at back at some highlights from 2020 as we positioned Mifos and Fineract as foundational digital public goods, providing open building blocks to help rapidly mobilize accounts and payments amidst the response to COVID-19.

Mifos and Fineract selected as UN Digital Public Goods

The Mifos and Fineract communities are honored to have Mifos and Fineract be nominated and selected as Digital Public Goods by the UN-supported Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA). Additionally, both Mifos and Fineract along with OpenG2P, Mojaloop, and MOSIP were selected as part of the 7 key projects by the DPG Alliance’s Financial Inclusion Community of Practice (CoP) to help advance the Secretary General’s digital cooperation roadmap to achieve greater financial inclusion and meet the sustainable development goals by 2030.

The DPGA convenes expert Communities of Practice (CoPs) to support the discovery, assessment and advancement of digital public goods with high potential for addressing critical development needs in low- and middle-income countries. The Financial Inclusion CoP spent the last few months identifying and shortlisting technologies that, in a given country, can be used by a range of service providers and innovators. These technologies can be built on across sectors and have features that can allow countries to freely adopt and iterate them to meet local needs.

The DPGA along with a growing international consensus has recognized digitization of public financing as a key driver of financial inclusion at scale with government payments estimated at $220-$320 billion annually by the IMF. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened this need to equip governments with the ability to rapidly provide accounts and disburse payments to weather the economic impact of the health crisis.

Mifos and Fineract have long aimed to provide a common set of open source building blocks for composable financial services and are happy to see the sector recognize the need to reduce duplicative efforts and formally identify and make discoverable a set of Digital Public Goods and enable collaboration and innovation around them.This critical recognition and endorsement of Mifos and Fineract as these foundational digital public goods will help us in advocating for the adoption and deployment of Mifos for G2P scenarios as countries across the globe stabilize and rebound from the pandemic.

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Mifos Recognized as 2020 Benzinga Fintech Listmaker for Best API

Mifos, the global fintech thought leader and pioneer of innovative open source banking technology for consumer financial services, has been recognized as a 2020 Benzinga Global Fintech Listmaker for Best API.

The official Benzinga Fintech Listmakers comprises 250 carefully vetted and renowned companies and executives who are striving to revolutionize the fintech industry. From deeply established companies to the newest startups, this group is impacting sectors like payments, banking, investing, technology and financial literacy.

Mifos originated the concept of Open Source Banking through a core banking platform that is open source from the ground up with a full set of APIs to build from. As the DNA of financial services that can be expressed in many ways, Mifos and Apache Fineract provide a set of open source building blocks that can be composed into financial services of any form. Read more

Roadmap for the Future of Fineract at ApacheCon @Home

This month marks nearly five years since The Mifos Initiative began the process of donating the Mifos X software to the Apache Software Foundation leading to the formation of the top-level project, Apache Fineract. We’re proud to see how the community has continued to grow and evolve with the first ever Fineract track taking place at this year’s ApacheCon, which is going completely virtual this year as ApacheCon @Home.

Throughout this time the Mifos Initiative has continued to act as a thought leader for democratizing financial services while stewarding the ecosystem of companies developing solutions and contributing to the upstream development on Apache Fineract. Members of the Mifos team will be leading a number of talks and moderating several panels which will showcase this ecosystem and the roadmap we’re advancing to position Apache Fineract as both a foundational digital public good and disruptive open source core banking platform

ApacheCon @Home is completely virtual this year and will be held September 29 to October 2 from xyz to xyz. View the Fineract track agenda for details on each session and register for the conference, here: https://hopin.to/events/apachecon-home. During the three day Fineract track, spearheaded by Javier Borkenztain from Fiter, there will be a range of talks and panels highlighting the past, present, and future of Fineract.

 

James Dailey, the current chairman of the Mifos board and the visionary behind Apache Fineract which originally started out as MOAP, the microbanking architecture project nearly two decades ago, will moderate a panel looking at The Present of Fineract and will give a glimpse into the future by participating in a panel envisioning Fineract in 2030 and leading a talk on Open Source as a Counterweight to PlatFins.

 

Michael Vorburger, longtime Mifos and Fineract volunteer who recently joined the Mifos Initiative board, will share his efforts in catalyzing upstream development across the community during his Fineract: Reinvigorating Community Talk which has been made possible through the development infrastructure he built out and will showcase during his Running Fineract.dev like a Cloud Native SRE session. 

 

President/CEO of the Mifos Initiative, Edward Cable, will moderate a number of different panels which showcase the expertise of our ecosystem, the breadth of use cases for which they’ve deployed Fineract, and the roadmap of how Mifos will help to guide the ecosystem in evolving Fineract as an end to end open source architecture for composable financial services.

Apache Fineract, as a flexible and scalable account and wallet management platform is the critical foundation for enabling real-time payments adoption, fueling mobile innovation at both a consumer as well as delivery channel level, helping governments digitize large scale cash transfers, and leveraging the power of data science to deliver more impactful financial services. 

  • AI for All: Democratizing Data Science for Financial Inclusion
    • Jeremy Engelbrecht of Softidoc and Lalit Mohan of IDRBT will share with you the Mifos vision of AI for All – our roadmap for enabling widespread adoption of data science tools made evident by the innovations built by our community and ecosystem. 
  • Digital Field Applications: Exploring the Spectrum of Apps to Truly Reach the Last Mile 
    • Avik Ganguly of Fynarfin will present and showcase the wide range of mobility and field force enablement applications that can be powered by Fineract to support widespread operations in the field and branchless delivery channels. 
  • To Infinity and Beyond: Scaling Fineract for the Enterprise
    • Istvan Molnar of DPC Consulting, Victor Romero of Fintecheando and Avik Ganguly of Fynarfin will share how they achieved massive scalability of Fineract for institutions ranging from Fortune 500 banks to national government-led banks to leading fintech mobile wallet providers. 
  • OpenG2P: Open Source Building Blocks for Digitizing Large Scale Cash Transfers
    • Steve Conrad of DIAL and Keyzom and Salton Massally will introduce to the Fineract community, the OpenG2P framework, an emerging coalition and reference architecture of composable digital public goods for digitizing cash transfers. 
  • Real-Time Payments: Enabling a Connected, Cashless, and Inclusive Society
    • Godfrey Kutumela representing High Touch Consulting and the Mojaloop community along with Istvan Molnar of DPC Consulting will highlight the growing adoption of national real-time payment systems guided by standards like the Level One Principles and how the Fineract community can leverage the recently developed Payment Hub EE to accelerate connection to real-time payment systems like Mojaloop
  • Open Banking: a Revolutionary Democratizing Force for Financial Services Innovation
    • Our panel consisting of Matt Millar of Updraft from the UK, Victor Romero of Fintecheando in Mexico and Ali Hussein Kassim of Kipochi from Nairobi will give insight into the transformative innovation for consumers being enabled by Open Banking standards emerging around the globe.

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