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.

Nonetheless, there is a convergence going on – the innovations around security on mobile devices, mobile payment platforms connecting to banking systems, and ecosystem approaches that should sound really familiar to the Mifos community.  Since 2004 we’ve been trying to figure out how to build a new kind of financial services infrastructure in emerging markets that is not based on the old way of doing business.  It seems like it is arriving and/or emerging.
So, yes, these were kindred spirits even if they didn’t quite understand us.
“So, you build an API to a banking system?”, one participant asked.  “No”, we said, “we are the core banking platform”.   The look said it all – to paraphrase:  ‘Hasn’t anyone told you that building a core banking system out-of-the-box as open source is impossible?’
We also found some real comrades in the Credit Union participants, and in the ecosystem players who want to be able to offer a banking platform as a part of their overall offering.  To them our approach made a lot of sense.  Build a banking platform that connects to other services like credit scoring or analytics, package it up via an integrator, build an ecosystem of other providers on top of it, and voila, we have a highly disruptive and market-ready offering.
Isn’t that cool?