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The Power of Technology to Eradicate Poverty

By Opportunity International

Technology efficiently and cheaply brings financial services to people in remote or rural areas. It breaks through barriers throughout the developing world, where people are excluded from financial services because of illiteracy, expensive transportation and geographic isolation. With the support of our strategic partners, individual donors and dedicated staff, Opportunity International leverages technology to help free people from the cycle of poverty.

A typical cell phone used for banking in the developing world.We utilize cell phone banking, satellite bank branches, ATMs and point-of-sale (POS) devices provide low-cost, secure banking to formerly excluded clients. We are establishing points of access within one kilometer (about two miles) of a client’s home or business. We are migrating to cloud-based systems and developing of a new generation of skilled IT leaders to continue these innovations.

The Power of Technology

Marie-Claire Ina opens an account in Kinshasa, DR Congo.Marie-Claire Ina opens a biometric-based account at Opportunity International’s bank in Democratic Republic of Congo. With support from the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), this is one of only a few places in the developing world offering this powerful technology. It requires only a fingerprint-embedded ID card to access an account. Even those who are illiterate or lack formal identification have control over their finances and a recognition many have never known.

Annie Nyangomba at Opportunity, Kinshasa, DR CongoAnnie Nyangomba holds out her finger to be read. She also is opening an account at the Kinshasa branch of Opportunity DR Congo. Annie says she was reluctant to open a bank account before because she thought it would be too expensive. But now that she has the structure of a bank account, she feels more secure and recognized. “Now I get more respect,”Annie tells us, “and I hope to see my social life change. I feel more secure for the future of my children.”

Gaining Access: Cell Phone Banking

Felicitus Mmboge keeps her money safe and secure and her business is a success in her Nairobi, Kenya shop.In Nairobi, Kenya, Felicitus Mmboge uses her cell phone to save and transfer money, pay for goods, and accept payments in her beauty products business. She even receives and repays her Opportunity loans with her cell phone. Cell phone banking allows her to make these transactions without having to shutter her shop to visit a bank branch, saving her travel expenses and lost income.

Financial tools like cell phone banking, satellite bank branches, ATMs and point-of-sale devices strengthen communities. They increase security and keep Opportunity International’s clients close to their homes and businesses. Whether in rural villages or sprawling city markets, our clients have safe, affordable, reliable and convenient access to their accounts so they can keep their businesses open and avoid costly travel to the bank.

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