Taking banking to the people

Blue Financial Services has again used a combination of technology, practicality and innovation to deliver much needed 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. 
Brink continues, “We are very excited about this solution because field consultants are finally able to complete loan applications from start to finish within minutes. 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, where it has proving to be a phenomenal success, prompting Blue to look at releasing the Branch in a Box in Nigeria. The South African operations have been using it since October 2009 and Blue is confident that the rest of their operations across Africa will benefit from utilising this innovative technology.
Brink concludes, “Blue will continue to look for exciting hi-tech advances that will benefit our clients and our business. By keeping our finger on the pulse of the micro-financial industry and combining this knowledge with technology, we hope to improve our service and deliver ethical financial solutions to those who need it most in Africa.”

Alain Charles Publishing, University House, 11-13 Lower Grosvenor Place, London, SW1W 0EX, UK
T: +44 20 7834 7676, F: +44 20 7973 0076, W: www.alaincharles.com

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