COVID-19 is reshaping the way people live their daily lives. Social distancing and efforts to avoid unnecessary interactions have meant rethinking approaches to daily tasks, including money management. And mobile banking has become a go-to app.
While mobile banking was common in the United States before the emergence of COVID-19, usage has surged since lockdowns began. According to Fidelity National Information Services (FIS), mobile banking traffic in the United States rose 85% as the pandemic took hold. Other developed countries have also seen similar increases in mobile banking.
Generous donor support, smart investments, and the proliferation of digital technologies have allowed FINCA Impact Finance to introduce many technological innovations similar to what we have in America. As a result, FINCA’s microfinance clients are better prepared to survive in a world upended by the coronavirus.
Even in an extremely poor country like Haiti, half of FINCA’s clients have a smart phone or other ways to access to the internet. And FINCA Haiti is putting the growing ubiquity of those technologies to work.
The most recent digital innovation from FINCA Haiti is its virtual branch. For many years, FINCA Haiti used the internet and social media to inform prospective clients about the microloans and other life-changing services it offers. But people still had to visit a physical branch office or wait for a visit from a credit officer to complete a loan application.
The virtual branch does away with those in-person visits. From initial contact through application and disbursement, client interact with FINCA Haiti completely online. While conceived of prior to the pandemic as a way to provide better service to clients and reach people in outlying areas, the virtual branch couldn’t have launched at a better time.
Haiti isn’t the only FINCA Impact Finance subsidiary seeing a dramatic increase in the use of digital banking. In the weeks following the lockdown of their country, FINCA Kosovo reported a 2,000 percent spike in web chat inquiries and a 700 percent increase in Viber chats and Facebook Messenger inquiries.
Meanwhile FINCA Microfinance Bank Pakistan recorded a surge in the use of its mobile wallet. The mobile wallet includes a contactless payment feature, which has been a real game changer. It allows clients to practice social distancing while remaining economically active.
As the novel coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on countries in which FINCA works, more innovation will be necessary. If you are interested in supporting these efforts, please consider donating to FINCA’s Emergency Response Fund.