MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: African Banks Join FMO’s FinForward, Gain Access to 4wrd System for Testing Customer Data with 145 Fintechs

The FinForward program of the Nederlandse Financierings-Maatschappij voor Ontwikkelingslanden (FMO), a development bank controlled by the Dutch government, has enrolled nine African financial institutions that are looking to improve their back-office systems or digitize the client-facing operations. The program offers the banks, which operate in 36 countries, access to 4wrd, “a testing environment where the banks and fintechs [financial technology firms] can test and integrate new financial technology solutions in a safe and secure manner.” The environment serves as a single connection point for financial institutions and mobile-money providers to access the services of 145

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: United Bank for Africa (UBA) Rolls Out “Intelligent Personality,” Leo, to Support Online Banking Customers via Facebook Messenger

United Bank for Africa (UBA), which serves 22 countries from its headquarters in Nigeria, recently unveiled Leo, “an artificial intelligence personality meant to address any type of banking concerns” via the Facebook Messenger app from US-based technology firm Facebook. UBA customers that also have a Facebook account may use the “chat banking” service to perform range of actions that includes opening accounts, checking account balances, transferring funds, buying mobile airtime, confirming transactions, applying for loans and freezing

MICROFINANCE EVENT: Mondato Summit Africa; April 17 – 18, 2018; Johannesburg, South Africa

Summary of Event: The goal of the fifth iteration of this event is to help executives in the digital finance and commerce sectors share information and solve problems. Provisional agenda items include data analytics, case studies, reaching young people, measuring financial inclusion, cryptocurrencies, investment

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Untu Capital of Zimbabwe Selling $1m in Bonds in Increments of $50 via Mobile Money to Support Microfinance, SME Lending

Untu Capital, a microlender in Zimbabwe, is looking to raise up to USD 1 million to support its lending to micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises by selling “U-Gain” bonds in increments of USD 50. Individuals may buy the bonds on Zimbabwe’s Financial Securities Exchange (FINSEC) via EcoCash, the mobile money service of South Africa’s Econet Group. Although the bonds have a term of one year

MICROFINANCE EVENT: International Conference on Responsible Inclusive Finance; March 21 – 22, 2018; Kigali, Rwanda

Summary of Event: As related to delivering “responsible” financial services, this conference will cover client protection, enabling environments, client perspectives and digital payments, including serving the

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: MasterCard Pilots Kionect Digital Platform with Microbusinesses in Nairobi, Kenya, in Partnership with Microfinance Institution Musoni, Distributor Kaskazi, Diamond Trust Bank

US-based financial technology firm MasterCard recently began pilot testing a platform called Kionect, which allows kiosk owners in Kenya to use short message service (SMS), also known as text messaging, to

MICROFINANCE EVENT: Mobile World Conference 2018; February 26 – March 1, 2018; Barcelona, Spain

Event Name: Mobile World Conference 2018

Event Date: February 26 – March 1, 2018

Event Location: Barcelona, Spain

Summary of Event: This conference brings industry leaders together to cover recent trends and developments in the telecommunications industry. About 100,000 people from 200 countries are expected to attend. Among the networking opportunities and presentations are: “Expanding Digital Services

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Analytics Private Limited (APL) to Use IBM Technology to Help FINCA Pakistan Understand Customers Better, Improve Digital Financial Services

FINCA Pakistan, an affiliate of the US-based Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA International), recently hired Analytics Private Limited (APL), a Pakistani technology company, to help it deepen

SPECIAL REPORT: Zemidjam Motorbike Drivers in Benin, Civil Service Retirees in Senegal Participate in Human-centered Design of Mobile Money Products

During the closing day of European Microfinance Week, European Microfinance Week 2017 Karima Wardak of the UN Capital Development Fund argued that copying digital financial services from country to country is not working. The same is true of country-specific “products that were designed in board rooms,” she said. Gilda Zarate Chabluk of Innate Motion, a consultancy with staff in 27 countries, launched the discussion of how concepts of human-centered design can sidestep these problems. All staff involved in a project should observe and talk to end-users early in the design process. She suggests a meeting at the home of the end-user that lasts about two hours, with most of that time focused on the user’s life rather than the product. The idea is to create the product with the users not for the

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Telma Introduces Mvola Mobile Loans, Savings in Madagascar

Telma Mobile, a Madagascar-based telecommunications company, recently rolled out the Mvola Avance and Epargne products, which offer loans and savings services, respectively, through the pre-existing Mvola mobile money service. With Mvola Avance, customers can borrow from MGA 1,000 to MGA 500,000 (USD 0.30 to USD 157) for

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Mastercard, Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Uganda Partnering on Digital Payments for Agriculture, Education, Health and Trade

Mastercard, a US-based payment processing company, and Financial Sector Deepening (FSD) Uganda, an NGO funded by the UK Department for International Development, recently entered a memorandum of understanding to create

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: FINCA Microfinance Bank of Tanzania Rolls Out HaloYako Mobile Savings Product

The Tanzanian affiliate of the US-based Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA International) recently began offering a service called HaloYako that allows people to open savings accounts via mobile phones. There is no fee to use the service or maintain the associated account. In fact, customers can earn

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Alternative Credit Scoring Firm MicroMoney, Peer-lending Platform Karma Partner to Promote Financial Inclusion

Singapore-based alternative credit scoring firm MicroMoney and Netherlands-domiciled peer-lending NGO Karma recently announced a partnership to work toward their shared “mission to help billions of people to be financially included” in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. MicroMoney will access repayment data from

SPECIAL REPORT: Innovations in Fintech, Human Resources Development at SAM (Semaine Africaine de la Microfinance)

At SAM Conference 2017, Addis Ababa, Ethiopiathe SAM (Semaine Africaine de la Microfinance) conference in Addis Ababa, a wide variety of vendors presented their wares. Among these were several core banking system providers. Antonio Separovic of Oradian previously had set the stage for the conversation at the fintech (financial technology) session organized by Dutch development bank FMO. He argued that microfinance institutions (MFIs) shouldn’t start by thinking about whether to buy a new system, but about where the MFI wants to go and how to get there. “Fintech may be able to reduce the friction to do these things,” he said.

Cameron Goldie-Scot of Musoni agreed: “It’s about what are the challenges in your organization? Is it too expensive to handle cash in rural areas? Do you have trouble getting

MICROCAPITAL BRIEF: Egyptian Mobile Payment Platform Fawry Sells Equity Stake to Private Equity Firm Managed by responsAbility

An entity managed by Switzerland’s responsAbility Investments recently purchased a stake of undisclosed size and price in Fawry, a mobile payments platform in Egypt. Fawry has 20 million customers, whom it enables to pay bills and make retail purchases via mobile phones, credit cards, automatic teller machines, accounts at 23 banks, and point-of-sale machines at 65,000