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