Innovation & Technology
MiCrédito is always working towards finding innovative solutions to problems faced by the Nicaraguan poor. It is clear to MiCrédito Management that future solutions lie in today's technology. MiCrédito has successfully been incorporating technological methods into various aspects of their processes for years, in order to ensure that the organization is cost and time effective.
MiCrédito has a total of eleven branches, in strategically chosen cities, where Credit Officers reach thousands of urban and rural clients each year. Due to the lack of transportational infrastructure in many rural parts of Nicaragua, MiCrédito looked towards technology as the method of reaching underserved or forgotten clients in some of the most rural areas of Nicaragua. MiCrédito has now adopted methods that allow for loans to be approved and processed as quickly as one day, in order to save the client time and, in congunction, money. With these advancements, MiCrédito continues to ensure that a personal relationship between clients and staff is established.
MiCrédito currently uses a personal approach that consists of visiting clients in both urban and rural communities via motocycle. The desire is that all clients have a personal relationship with a staff member before the loan application process begins. Each MiCrédito staff member that is reaching out to the community is local to that area and often has deep ties within the community.
Mobile Credit Checks
MiCrédito has teamed up with Cana Movil in order to offer clients a faster, more effective method of checking credit. Now, Credit Officers are able to check a prospective client's credit while in their community through their mobile telephone. Before this partnership was formed, Credit Officers had to have access to a computer and internet in order check a client's credit history and rating. This meant that prospective clients needed to come into a MiCrédito branch or wait a day in order to hear back from the Credit Officer to be sure that they were approved for the loan. Then the client would need to visiting the branch to sign the appropriate papers.
Credit officers are able to use their cell phone devices and enter the necessary information into the transunion system. Through this method, Credit Officers receive information instantly about the client's credit rating, allowing the Credit Officer to notify potential clients on the same day whether they will be approved for a MiCrédito loan.
Mobile Credit Checks have revolutionized the way that MiCrédito is able to offer their services and products, especially to rural clients. Always considerate of clients' time and concerns, MiCrédito has been able to limit the number of times they need to visit MiCrédito branches, ensuring more time is spent caring for their businesses. Clients have been very impressed by the time and cost savings with this new Mobile Credit Check technology.
An assessment performed by MEDA revealed that not only was the delivery of credit improved but the organizational strategy, portfolio, customer service, employment and security have all been enhanced, along with a reduction of portfolio at risk. The three top benefits have been seen in customer service, the ease in achieving organizational strategy, and the inspiration to further use innovative methods in order to improve organizational processes.
BAC Debit Cards and Financial Inclusion
MiCrédito has formed a strategic partnership with Banco America Central (BAC), one of the top three banks in Nicaragua and Central America, as a whole. This partnership has allowed MiCrédito to deliver its loans to customers through a BAC Debit Card, providing customers with access to the regulated financial banking system - and for many, this is the first time. Through providing this debit card, clients withdraw their loans through the BAC ATM or Branch network, providing them with exponentially more points of access than MiCrédito alone can offer.
Through this innovative approach to micro-lending, clients receive a number of benefits that previously were not available to them. Clients have a wider network to access their loans, are able to use their debit cards at supermarkets and most stores; therefore, decreasing their overall risk, and finally, clients now have the access to a savings account through BAC.
Previously, clients would need to withdraw the total amount of their loan in cash, at a MiCrédito branch. However, now, clients are able to use their debit card when paying for inventory or withdraw cash from their loan through a BAC ATM or Branch at a needs basis; therefore, clients are significantly reducing their risk by eliminating the amount of cash they are carrying with them when conducting their business or purchasing items for their business.
The Value in Saving
Many individuals living in poverty in Nicaragua are not given the opportunity to access the regulated financial system, as they are unable to meet the minimum balance requirements. Therefore, individuals do not see the value and benefit in saving for the future, or do not have a safe place to do so. Through MiCrédito's partnership with BAC, clients of MiCrédito are able to access their loan through a checking account with BAC and therefore, while seeing a return on their investment into their business, are able to deposit money back into their account, in order to save. Also, after the loan is paid off, the customer will continue to have that bank account available to them, therefore, providing a safe place to save for their future.
MiCrédito has been continually thinking of innovative, new ways to serve and meet the needs of their clients. The future of MiCrédito looks strongly intertwined with technological advancements, in turn, making the future of MiCrédito strong.