Digital solutions help expand financial inclusion in Tajikistan

Over the years, FINCA Tajikistan has delivered responsible, impactful financial services to over 30,000 low-income individuals. Through a new initiative that leverages innovative financial technology, the bank seeks to build on this number and further expand financial inclusion in the country.

Reaching further using technology

Financial institutions that employ traditional brick and mortar operations often require prospective loan borrowers to physically visit a branch to fill out a loan application. For the two-thirds of FINCA Tajikistan customers who live in remote, hard-to-reach regions of the country, visiting a branch can be difficult and time consuming.

As a solution to this problem, FINCA Tajikistan rolled out an initiative this past October that uses Digital Field Automation (DFA) to make applying for a loan easier for rural residents. DFA is a tablet-based tool that enables Client Relationship Officers (CROs) to conduct the loan application process in the field – in the customer’s home or at their place of work.

“Applying for a loan in the field reduces the number of times our rural customers have to visit a branch office,” says Yuliya Lesik, FINCA Tajikistan’s Head of Marketing. “Getting to a branch for them is not always easy.”

She notes that while customers who are approved for loans will eventually have to visit a branch for disbursement, the tablet initiative makes the process more convenient by reducing the extra trip that would be needed to apply.

According to Lesik, implementing the project was a fairly straight-forward process.

“We already had a system in place in the branches that allowed us to process loans quickly,” she explains. “With this project, we just had to make it so the CROs could access the platform remotely from their tablets.”

Maintaining customer relationships

As FINCA Impact Finance (FIF) has shifted away from solely a branch-based operation and has instead pursued a hybrid model of delivering digital financial services banking, it has resulted in a reduced amount of face-to-face interaction with customers. However, leveraging new innovative digital technology does not eliminate customer interaction entirely.

FINCA Impact Finance recognizes that in financial services and microfinance in particular, the quality of the client relationship is a key determinant in fulfilling a client’s needs. Relationship quality is based on trust, and that trust is evidenced and maintained when every FIF client experience is reassuring, rewarding and delivered exactly as expected

By leveraging fintech innovations, financial institutions have the ability to repeatedly deliver exactly what the client expects. For example, the loan application functionality on the tablet ensures a paper-free process that guarantees a fast and accurate turnaround. In addition, tablet-based innovations can also be used to provide loan borrowers with critical training that focuses on financial literacy.

Over time, FINCA clients in Tajikistan will be able to migrate to a range of digital products and services, making it so clients will no longer need to depend on the branch network. Instead clients will be able to make choices based on convenience, cost and trust. Moreover, FINCA Tajikistan will ensure that this new technology delivers in terms of removing paperwork, optimizing processes and guaranteeing integrity.