Benefits and Limitations of Technology in MFIs: Come to Save (CTS) Experience from Rural Bangladesh

Benefits and Limitations of Technology in MFIs: Come to Save (CTS) Experience from Rural Bangladesh

Abu Saleh Mohammad Musa (South Asian Microfinance Network (SAMN), Bangladesh) and Mostafa Saidur Rahim Khan (Stamford University, Bangladesh)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/jeco.2010040105

Abstract

Adoption of Information Technology (IT) in Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) has become one of the key indicators to improve operating efficiency and productivity of staff at all levels of the organization. Though the cost of investment in IT is a matter of concern, it has manifold benefits ranging from productivity improvement to socio economic development of the target clients. This paper focuses on the adoption of Point of Sale (POS) technology in MFIs and its benefits in operation, cost reduction and stakeholder relationship through an evaluation of a small-scale MFI, Come to Save (CTS), operating in Bangladesh. This paper reinforces that timely implementation of technology reduces cost of operation, attains economies of scale and increases outreach through increased staff productivity.
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Background

Microfinance is considered as one of the development interventions, which has been recognized as powerful instrument for poverty reduction of the low income households. Microfinance has enabled the poor to build assets, increase income, and reduce their vulnerability. However, out of a very large number of MFIs working in Asia, there are still very few financially sustainable MFIs operating with significant breadth and depth of outreach. It has been reported that the main constraint for the sector is not the lack of funds but the lack of capacity in operating sustainable institutions (Setboonsarng & Zhang, 2006). Information and communication technologies (ICT) have emerged as a powerful tool to reduce operating costs, making it viable for financial institutions to expand into rural and low-income areas. ICT innovations such as personal computers connected to the internet, mobile phones, ATM or POS devices located at retail may be less expensive to establish than branches located in rural areas and more convenient for customers (Ivatury, 2005). Unlike pure cash based transactions, ICT-based transactions can take place with less time or no time required from a teller. Rather than hand over cash to a teller when making a deposit or loan repayment, a customer can give cash to a store clerk, swipe a debit card through a POS card reader, and input an identification number to authorize the transaction. The store’s account at the financial institution would be debited by an amount equivalent to the cash deposit, and the customer’s would be credited. Since the transaction is electronic, from the institution’s perspective, it is less costly to process.

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