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LiveBlog: Innovating Technology: Bringing the Bank to the Doorstep of the Poor

By Sonja Egeland Kelly

“The cell phone has won. Everybody wants a cell phone, and they are at a price point that our customers can afford.” Daryl Skoog, Senior Vice President, Technology, explained how the cell phone is revolutionizing microfinance banking. “These networks enable us to move information locally where we were unable to do that before. We implemented cell phone banking in January, and by March, 40% of our customers were using it.”

The http://www.opportunity.org/blog/cell-phone-banking-examination/cell phone[/intlink] is just one of the many tools that Opportunity appears to be using to make banking easier and more accessible to its clients.

Innovative building tools, electric bikes for loan officers, satellite internet, human ATMs, biometric technology and innovative farming education make up Opportunity’shttp://www.opportunity.org/blog/update-innovations-in-technology/technology[/intlink] arsenal.

Technology is a critical tool in the fight against poverty, allowing Opportunity to bring microfinance services to the most marginalized and remote clients. Session participants learned how applying technologies such as cell phones, satellite and broadband internet further increase Opportunity’s reach.

Daryl also introduced Benson P. Lee to Opportunity. Lee unveiled a new fuel cell technology, which will revolutionize the rural sector in developing countries. The technology works by channeling energy through six stacks of small disks. With the technology, Opportunity will be able to access power anywhere, with twice the efficiency of a diesel generator, and the technology operates on a variety of gas and liquid fuels. For more information, see Lee’s presentation at www.tedxcle.com. Stay tuned for more information on how Opportunity will use this exciting invention!

What an exciting time for microfinance. I certainly left the session feeling inspired about the innovations that Opportunity is employing to make financial services more accessible to those living in poverty.

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