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7 innovative ideas to provide greater access to financial services in Latin America and the Caribbean

Technologies for Financial Inclusion Program announces 2012 finalists for its call for proposals

The Technologies for Financial Inclusion Program has selected seven finalists among 98 nominees in its call for proposals 2012. The Program is sponsored by the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and CAF, Development Bank of Latin America.

Institutions from Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Jamaica and Uruguay will face a second phase in which they will be supported in the development of a project strategy and its implementation—if obtaining financing. The ideas received this year reflect efforts made by banks, cooperatives and microfinance institutions in the region to leverage technology in order to make their business strategies viable for financial inclusion and to address, at lower cost and with higher quality, a variety of services for the underserved population, which is still majority.

According to a 2010 CAF study completed in 17 cities of the region, only 21.4 percent of the adult population uses the financial system for savings and even less (12.3 percent) credit.

Many of the finalists’ ideas propose leveraging technology in order to reach rural and marginal urban populations through mobile financial services and transactional networks that help reducing costs while increasing flexibility and security of transactions for the banks and their customers.

As in previous years, many of the ideas emphasize mobile phone delivery channels to allow low-cost transactions. However, the most interesting proposals are those that use cell phones to go beyond transactions or value storage. This year there was a special focus on ideas that use mobile phones as a financial education tool or to help young people manage their finances. In a novel way, there are proposals of services based on Near Field Communications (NFC), a short-range wireless connectivity standard that uses magnetic field induction to enable communication and data exchange between devices.

The finalist ideas are:

  • A Box of Bricks for Savings, Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth (CIPPEC) and Banco Ciudad de Buenos Aires. Argentina.
  • Financial Education in the Cellphone, Telefónica Celular de Bolivia - Telecel (Tigo). Bolivia
  • Mobile Money for the Unbanked, Transcel Limited. Jamaica.
  • Student Wallet, INTERBIL S.A Uruguay
  • Closer to People, Closer to Financial Services, Red Pagos. Uruguay.
  • Mobile Wallet for Rural Areas, Multicredit. Guatemala
  • Shared Platform of Financial Services in Rural and Marginal Urban Areas, National Network of Popular and Solidary Finances of Ecuador-RENAFIPSE. Ecuador.

The Technologies for Financial Inclusion Program supports projects that seek to improve access to financial services for low-income populations in Latin America and the Caribbean, through the innovative application of technology solutions. This call was the third since the program's inception in 2010. The contest idea’s selection is made by a Selection and Evaluation Committee constituted by representatives of the MIF, IDB, CAF and GSMA. Find more information about the program and the videos of the selected ideas in www.tec-in.org, and the MIF website.

More than half of the selected ideas are expected to be embodied in projects that will be implemented with funding from the MIF and/or CAF, along with other program partners.

For further information or to make inquiries, contact: tec-in@iadb.org.