To meet the ever growing needs for financial services by urban and rural poor globally, the microfinance industry has developed innovative approaches to reach prospective and existing clients.  While transportation and telecommunication services expand into hard to reach areas, many challenges remain.  Some of these challenges have been met by government agencies and international aid organizations, but others are attracting private corporations and entrepreneurs.

Branchless Banking

Looking Back at Trends in Branchless Banking in 2012.   CGAP’s study examines top developments in the branchless banking industry.  For example,  Google enters Kenya’s payments market with the beba card.

How Much Does It Cost? New Methods to Measure Agent Networks. A study by MicroSave on the cost of delivering products and services using mobile banking. (Jan.2012)

Scenarios for Branchless Banking in 2020 (for the unbanked poor)

Kenya: Branchless Banking Eases Service Costs

Regulatory Issues in Branchless Banking: Agents, Mobile Phones, Cash Cards and New Thinking

 

Mobile Banking

A Digital Pathway to Financial Inclusion (2013). In a recent paper, the authors (at the Gates Foundation) present a growing body of evidence which indicates that connecting poor people to a digital financial system will generate sizable welfare benefits.

Could Mobile Banking be the innovative answer to the microfinance conundrum? (2012) Discusses how mobile phones are now being used, on a large scale, to extend financial services to the poor.

Designing and Implementing Agent Networks. This paper consolidates the views of different stakeholders involved in e/m-banking on the aspects related to ‘Agent Network Management. (2011)

Mobile Banking: Why it pays to take your time.  A mobile banking channel holds much promise for reaching further out to the unbanked and servicing customers in an efficient and cost-savings manner – both for microfinance institutions and for their end customers. (2011)

The Innovative use of Mobile Applications in East Africa.

Mobile Union and Equatorial Trust Bank launch mtxpress in Nigeria. New online service offers secure, instant money transfer between the UK and Nigeria.

Microfinance and Mobile Banking: The Story So Far. Explores the roles that microfinance institutions can play in mobile banking (m-banking) and the potential benefits to MFIs and their customers using m-banking.

Mobile Banking to Transform Microfinance. The World Bank examines the state of mobile banking for the microfinance sector.

Mobile banking in Kenya: Gates taking microfinance experts for a firsthand look.  Mobile penetration in Africa, supported by the Gates Foundation.

Will mobile banking match mobile reach in India for Year 2010? With growing mobile penetration in India, it would be easier to enlist the support of microfinance institutions which have been actively operating in rural segments.

Mobile Banking and the Future of Transparency. Explores the benefits and challenges of mobile banking to reach the unbanked, including microfinance clients.

 

Technologies

Top ten takeaways from the Microfinance Technology conference.  (2012). With a focus on MIS and on mobile banking, including: an MFI is able to grow to 80,000 customers in one year.

Is SaaS the appropriate technology for microfinance? Discussion of scalable MIS software versus open source software for MFIs.