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Technology trends for microfinance institutions in 2024

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By HP Singh, CMD, Satin Creditcare Network Ltd.

As we step into 2024, Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) stand as pivotal forces driving financial inclusion. Boasting a remarkable 21% surge in their loan portfolio, soaring to ₹3.52 trillion in FY23, as per the Bharat Microfinance Report 2023 and likely to grow by 25% in FY24 according to CareEdge Ratings, MFIs have seamlessly integrated into India’s economic fabric. As announced in the Budget on 1st February 2024, the government’s ambitious “Lakhpati Didi Scheme,” targeting 30 million women, propels MFIs into a central role, fostering rural economic growth and advancing financial inclusion. Simultaneously, MFIs are immersed in the transformative Gen AI revolution, marked by unprecedented technological advancements.

HP Singh

The tech trends shaping the future of microfinance institutions include:

1. Digital-First Banking for Financial Inclusion: In 2024, digital-first banking has become a necessity for MFIs to cater to a diverse and widespread customer base. With the majority of the population gaining access to smartphones, MFIs are leveraging digital technologies to offer convenient and efficient banking services to underserved communities. Mobile and online banking platforms are proving instrumental in reaching remote areas, enabling customers to access financial services seamlessly.

2. AI-Driven Data Analysis and Personalisation: AI and data analysis are altering the way MFIs operate. From enhancing customer experiences to streamlining internal processes, AI-driven algorithms are providing valuable insights. Personalised banking experiences, customized to individual needs, are becoming the norm, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty. These technologies are also assisting MFIs in risk assessment and ensuring responsible lending practices.

3. UPI and digital payment integration: Recognising the surge in digital payments in India, MFIs are seamlessly integrating with the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) to facilitate swift and secure transactions. This trend not only aligns with the government’s push towards a cashless economy but also caters to the preferences of a tech-savvy population. By incorporating UPI into their systems, MFIs enhance financial accessibility, allowing clients to make effortless payments, transfers, and repayments using the widely adopted digital payment infrastructure in the country.

4. Blockchain technology for transparent transactions: Blockchain technology is gaining traction in the microfinance sector due to its potential to offer secure, transparent, and efficient transactions. By implementing blockchain, MFIs can enhance security, reduce fraud, and synchronize processes such as loan disbursement and repayment. The technology’s decentralized nature ensures that transactions are tamper-proof and can be easily audited, instilling trust among both MFIs and their customers.

5. Cybersecurity and fraud prevention: As digital banking becomes pervasive, ensuring the security of financial transactions is paramount for MFIs. Investments in advanced cybersecurity measures, including biometric authentication and AI-driven threat detection systems, are crucial to safeguard customer data and protect against fraudulent activities. Strengthening cybersecurity not only builds trust but also ensures the integrity of the microfinance ecosystem.

6. Rise of contactless payments and pay later market: Contactless payments and the burgeoning ‘Pay Later’ market is transforming the way microfinance transactions are conducted. The convenience of contactless payments caters to the preferences of a diverse customer base. MFIs are adapting to this trend by incorporating contactless payment options, enhancing accessibility, and simplifying financial transactions for their customers.

7. Regulatory technology (RegTech): RegTech takes center stage, revolutionizing compliance for banks and fintechs. AI-powered solutions automate tasks, enhance data analysis, and identify risks, enabling cost-effective operations within evolving regulations. This trend ensures seamless adherence to regulatory frameworks, fostering efficiency and positioning financial institutions for success in a dynamic regulatory landscape.

Final thoughts

In the landscape of 2024, MFIs navigate a pivotal era marked by technological advancements, regulatory strides, and a resounding call for financial inclusion. Modern technology and the upward trend in India’s microfinance industry bode well for the industry’s prospects. Institutions embracing these trends are positioned to drive efficiencies, fortify security, and contribute significantly to the financial well-being of underserved communities. As we adopt these transformative shifts, the banking sector emerges with a commitment to offer enhanced value, superior service, and heightened security, charting a course for a future that is both exciting and reassuring for all stakeholders in the financial ecosystem.

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