Opportunity International using smartcards and biometrics for banking

In sub-Saharan Africa, Opportunity International is using smartcards and Barcodes to provide bank services in rural regions.

In sub-Saharan Africa, Opportunity International is using smartcards and Barcodes to provide bank services in rural regions.

In sub-Saharan Africa, individuals living in rural areas have few ways to access banks. Currently, less than 10 percent of people in the region have bank or savings accounts.

Opportunity International is working to solve that problem through a system of kiosks, smartcards and biometrics.

In the past, individuals living in rural Malawi would travel for hours, even days to access banks. To remove that problem, Opportunity International has set up a number of kiosks, check-in centers and ATMs around the country to help people gain access to banking.

Increasing the proximity of bank facilities was not the only problem to solve. Most of the population in rural portions of sub-Saharan Africa lack proper identification. Instead of depending on the government to solve the problem, Opportunity International has set up a system in which bank members either receive a smartcard or use biometric identification to access bank kiosks.

Using plastic cards or fingerprinting, farmers and villagers in rural regions can now begin saving money, borrowing effectively and building up the local economy.

As of June 2010, the service had reached 284,622 people, saving a combined $32 million. This allowed approximately $30 million to be given in loans that can increase quality of life and help the region develop. 

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