Technology plays a critical role at financial institutions and is a vital element of the innovation taking place to advance financial inclusion.

Financial service providers’ use of technology can greatly improve organizational efficiency. Digitized portfolio management and record keeping systems, for example, improve a provider’s ability to accurately measure and understand the state of its organization, as well as report to regulators and funders. The widespread access to mobile devices and improvements to communications technology allow staff working in the field to capture and transmit real-time data back to the head office and provide their clients with updated information on balances and status of pending loan applications, for instance. With technology changing so quickly, providers should continuously assess their systems and processes and identify ways technological advances may improve the way they do business.

Technology is also rapidly changing how individuals access financial services and interact with financial service providers. The spread of mobile technology has paved the way for a new era of financial services in many countries. Agent networks and other technology-enabled businesses allow people to conduct many basic transactions, such as person-to-person payments, bill payments, deposits, and more, to take place without every stepping inside a bank branch.

A man fixing a TV. Photo by Deba Prasad Roy, 2014 CGAP Photo Contest.