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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.

 

 

Mifos and Mojaloop – an End to End Open Source Architecture for Digital Financial Services

UPDATE – November 2020: We have built out a production-ready and scalable, enterprise-grade version of Payment Hub EE with support from the Gates Foundation over the course of 2020. It can be deployed as the gateway, integration and microservice orchestration layer for connecting to any real-time payment system.

View the documentation and access the source code or reach out to us on Slack for access to the lab environment to test out Payment Hub EE.

I’m pleased to announce the ongoing collaboration between the Mifos Initiative and the Mojaloop community being funded by a strategic grant from DIAL (Digital Impact Alliance), and their Open Source Center. With the funding from DIAL, we’re embarking on the first step in our vision to create an end to end open source architecture for digital financial services, integrating Mifos and Mojaloop. Mojaloop provides the digital payment rails and Mifos provides the account management engine fueling innovation on top of them. Working with the team at DPC Consulting in Hungary, we have created a Mifos lab which provides a live environment for digital payment transactions to flow through a Mojaloop switch, initiated from accounts held at Digital Financial Service Providers (DFSPs) running Fineract and Fineract CN as their account management system. We had the honor and pleasure of joining the Mojaloop community and demoing this at the recent community convening in Arusha, Tanzania.

In Tanzania we could see the strong progress being made around the codebase and the growing force of the Mojaloop community. Post the convening, the tremendous momentum continued with a number of announcements centered around Mojaloop adoption across all segments of the financial services sector.  The Central Bank of the Republic of Tanzania announced the development of TIPS, the Tanzania Instant Payment System, of which they’ve chosen to adopt Mojaloop as the basis for their same-as-cash electronic payment system. WOCCU announced its digital financial inclusion strategy to reach 50 million-plus people across Asia centered around  a project to design interoperable, open-loop, low-cost, real-time payment platforms for its global network of credit unions across Asia, exploring the use of the Mojaloop open-source platform. Great progress is being made with the launch of Mowali, the mobile wallet interoperability initiative powered by Mojaloop, and led by Orange and MTN to enable interoperable payments across all of Africa. The DFS Lab Mojaloop Hackathon in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, in mid-April is fast-approaching and will give fintech companies an opportunity to develop and test innovative use cases on Mojaloop. 

The Mifos Initiative looks forward to being an enabling factor in not only extending the functionality of Mojaloop and evangelizing the platform but most importantly enabling and accelerating adoption by providing a robust lab environment and a Mojaloop-ready open source toolkit of account management systems, mobile wallets and a payment hub to facilitate the smooth integration with the Mojaloop APIs. Our vision is to provide the account and wallet management capabilities for an institution that wants to connect to Mojaloop whether they’re a SACCO or MFI, a fintech company, a mobile wallet provider, or even a bank.

Thank you to DIAL for enabling this collaboration, the DPC team for their stellar work, the Gates Foundation for enabling our participation at the convening and the Mojaloop community and ModusBox team for all their support with the integration. 

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Webinar: Introduction to Mojaloop from the Gates Foundation

We’re pleased to have Matt Bohan and other members of the Gates Foundation lead a webinar giving an introduction and Q & A session on the recently released Mojaloop.
The webinar was held on Wednesday January 10 at 1500GMT via GoToTraining.

Mojaloop is “open-source software for building interoperable digital payments platforms on a national scale. It makes it easy for different kinds of providers to link up their services and deploy low-cost financial services in new markets.”

At the Mifos Initiative, we believe that Mojaloop nicely complements the Mifos/Apache Fineract stack whereby we provide the core banking infrastructure for client and mobile wallet account management, a financial ledger, and portfolio account management needed by each Digital Financial Service Provider to uniquely identify accounts and initiate and record transactions on financial accounts.

While Mojaloop provides an open source platform enabling an internet of payments providing secure, low-cost, interoperable payments utilizing the following components:

Mojaloop includes four components: an interoperability layer, which connects bank accounts, mobile money wallets, and merchants in an open loop; a directory service layer, which navigates the different methods that providers use to identify accounts on each side of a transaction; a transactions settlement layer, which makes payments instant and irrevocable; and, components which protect against fraud.

To learn more about Mojaloop read the press release, view the FAQ, browse the repo and of course attend the webinar!

We look forward to being an active part of the Mojaloop community and are working on some proof of concept integrations between Mojaloop and Fineract 1.0 and Fineract CN.

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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Talking about Financial Inclusion to Financial Innovators at FinDEVr

James Dailey, board member and Chief Innovation Officer for the Mifos Initiative, spent this week at FinDEVr San Francisco with Vishwas introducing the Mifos X platform to the world of fin-tech innovators. 
This week was terrific. I was able to geek out about financial inclusion for hours, give a presentation about the powerful Platform that the Mifos team has built, learn what other tech is up and coming, and share the narrative of why Mifos as a rallying concept – open source, open APIs, cloud, mobile – is so important for building the financial services that people everywhere deserve.
The FinDEVr conference at UC San Francisco Conference Center was not the typical conference for Mifos. Attendees were representing some of the largest payment networks (Visa, Mastercard, Paypal) and their development efforts were focused on use cases that are quite removed from the world of microfinance or building the basic payment networks in emerging markets.

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