Blue Financial Services, a South African listed micro-financier, is using technology to deliver financial assistance to rural communities in Africa.
Sam Brink, group IT executive for Blue, says: “Micro-financiers need to make themselves more accessible to their client’s in Africa. We should focus on providing quality financial services that suit the needs of the people in rural areas and promote responsible lending practices that will uplift these communities. In order to achieve this, Blue successfully launched the Branch in a Box, bringing all the conveniences of an established branch directly to the people.”
This groundbreaking concept allows people in rural areas to apply for financial support without having to travel to the nearest city or town and locate a Blue branch. The innovative Branch in a Box contains a computer, a small printer, a webcam, fingerprint scanner and a BGAN Satellite Modem, which allows the Branch in a Box to connect to Blue’s network.
All this technology is housed within an insulated waterproof and easy to transport suitcase and allows the user to identify and score clients credit profiles, connect directly to the national in the relevant country and approve loans centrally. The field consultant using the equipment has been trained to adhere to the same strict principles and ethical lending practices that form the foundation of responsible lending that Blue has worked so hard to promote.
“We are very excited about this solution because field consultants are finally able to complete loan applications from start to finish within minutes," says Brink. "The amazing thing is that this entire process now takes place in areas where cell phone reception is not available. This solution is truly successful as it is able to be connected anywhere in real time.”
The Branch in a Box is already fully operational in Swaziland and Zambia and is proving to be a success. Blue is looking at releasing the Branch in a Box in Nigeria. The South African operations will be using it from October 2009 and Blue is confident that the rest of their operations across Africa will soon be utilising this technology.