Case study

Overcoming Back-end Barriers: Opportunity International and Bank Switching Solutions

Leveraging technology to reach rural microfinance clients
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This Progress Note describes Opportunity International'’s efforts to use technology, specifically back-end switching systems, to enable its banks to achieve widespread outreach to rural microfinance clients. A switching system is an important back-end enabler that drives ATMs and POS devices, linking them with a bank'’s portfolio management system. It also allows banks to connect to other banks’' ATM networks and can support m-banking and international remittances. Opportunity is trying to develop a switching solution for its microfinance banks in Africa, and is currently in the process of implementing a switch in Malawi. The switch implementation has gone through the following steps:

  • Determining a business strategy;
  • Identifying technical and business requirements;
  • Identifying a technology partner;
  • Assessing the product and potential partners;
  • Planning future course of action;
  • Responding to new developments;
  • Making financial decisions and implementing.

Opportunity International has overcome many hurdles, including changing technology options, a shifting regulatory landscape, and an initial lack of internal switch-specific expertise, in its first effort to install its own ATM/POS switch. The experience that it has acquired should lead to smoother technology implementations in the future.