Opportunity International Expands Deployment of Cutting-Edge Microfinance Banking Technologies
Electronic Wallet Strategy Improves Services and Reduces Costs
Oak Brook, Ill., (May 19, 2010) — Opportunity International will use a grant from Credit Suisse to expand the deployment of cutting-edge technologies to provide banking services to impoverished people around the world.
Opportunity’s electronic wallet strategy utilizes technology to reduce banking transaction costs when making financial services such as savings accounts, small business loans, insurance and training available to people living in poverty. To ensure the successful deployment and management of its technologies, Opportunity is also engaged in capacity building initiatives.
“Thanks to the partnership with Credit Suisse, Opportunity will be able to help millions more gain access to the financial services they need to provide for their families,” said April DuBois, vice president, international business development, Opportunity International. “We envision the day when all people will have the opportunity to safely deposit their savings, borrow capital for their businesses, receive training to develop business and life skills, and purchase insurance to protect their assets.”
Mobile phones are quickly becoming an additional delivery channel for performing banking transactions in countries with developed cell phone networks. Opportunity International is creating mobile phone banking solutions to support the electronic transfer of client deposits and withdrawals. Using this technology, clients with access to a mobile phone will be able to receive their loan proceeds as well as make withdrawals, deposits, and payments without having to leave their local communities.
“In countries where national payment systems exist, we have been able to greatly expand services,” said Daryl Skoog, senior vice president, MIS, Opportunity International. “Our clients can transact their business on ATM and POS devices in markets, shops and other community locations. Carrying their cash on a debit card greatly increases our clients’ safety and security, not to mention their productivity.”
Opportunity has introduced Netbooks – small, lightweight, inexpensive laptop computers – into mobile banks that travel from village to village providing financial services to people who cannot reach urban bank branches. Mobile banks equipped with Netbooks, optic fingerprint sensors and ATMs collect client biometrics and information to open new accounts and perform virtually all the services of a full-scale bank branch. In more remote areas, Opportunity provides loan officers with electric, battery-powered bicycles to reach clients who need financial services.
Opportunity is also engaged in staffing, training and capacity building initiatives, which are essential for the successful deployment and management of Opportunity’s technologies. In addition, Opportunity promotes research and innovation in the microfinance sector.
About Credit Suisse AG
Credit Suisse AG is one of the world's leading financial services providers and is part of the Credit Suisse group of companies (referred to here as 'Credit Suisse'). As an integrated bank, Credit Suisse offers clients its combined expertise in the areas of private banking, investment banking and asset management. Credit Suisse provides advisory services, comprehensive solutions and innovative products to companies, institutional clients and high-net-worth private clients globally, as well as to retail clients in Switzerland. Credit Suisse is headquartered in Zurich and operates in over 50 countries worldwide. The group employs approximately 47,600 people. Further information about Credit Suisse can be found at www.credit-suisse.com.
Credit Suisse Microfinance Capacity Building Initiative
Microfinance – the provision of financial services for the poor – has enabled around 100 million microentrepreneurs to establish businesses and thus earn a better living. It has been estimated that this growing sector could help a further one billion people to escape poverty through the creation of their own small businesses. Credit Suisse established its Microfinance Capacity Building Initiative to address the critical lack of resources in this sector and to help drive its expansion. This program complements the bank's leadership in this field by providing quality training for thousands of microfinance employees around the world. https://www.credit-suisse.com/responsibility/en/initiatives/initiatives_microfinance.jsp
About Opportunity International
Opportunity International provides access to savings, small business loans, insurance and training to over five million people working their way out of poverty in the developing world. Clients in over 20 countries use these financial services to start or expand a business, provide for their families, create jobs for their neighbors and build a safety net for the future. For more information, visit http://www.opportunity.org or join the conversation at http://facebook.com/opportunityintl and http://twitter.com/opportunityintl.