Fineract had a 3-day track at the ApacheCon @home 2021 edition. We had 20 conferences, panels, and discussions around the future of our industry, community, and project.
All the conferences and panels are now available on Youtube to watch.
Here is a curated list of the Fineract and Fintech Track at Apache 2021 so you can revisit the talks anytime.
Diego Gutierrez Zaldívar, Manuel Beaudroit, Javier Borkenztain
Bitcoins, blockchain, and decentralized finance have been around for over a decade and are here to stay. Blockchain is currently supported by open source platforms and has become the ledger of global economy.
- What integration possibilities does fineract have with Blockchain?
- How will we improve ourselves as a result of this revolution?
- What lessons can we learn from the DeFi's?
- How can we contribute to this new era?
Lalit Mohan Sanagavarapu, Jeremy Engelbrecht
World over "data" is considered as new "oil". Organizations are mining data available within their own systems, their partners, across all devices, and on the internet to enhance customer experience, drive operational efficiency, and deliver data-driven tailor-made services to consumers. Financial institutions are using data for credit scoring, fraud detection, adaptive authentication, virtual assistants and many other personalized services. Mifos has started its journey with 3 use cases - credit scoring, chatbots and progress out of poverty index (PPI). Our community working group is refining existing use cases and adding new use cases to optimize the customer journey. We'll showcase our work to date across the community and ecosystem with our data science-driven credit scoring tools. We'll share progress on our roadmap, with continued work on open source and on cloud machine learning API/libraries with explainability and security and forthcoming plans to focus on federated and democratized learning to address data challenges.
This is a presentation that summarizes the many threads of the Fineract and FinTech track at ApacheCon by PMC member and project founder/original architect. This will start with a summary of the role that open source is now playing in financial services, the evolution of this project, associated projects, and picking up on the themes of microfinance, financial inclusion, credit services, and cloud based banking-as-a-service. It will also unveil the results of a survey, to be conducted in August 2021, that builds upon a previous survey conducted on Fineract in 2019, covering attitudes about the project and the diversity of the community. Finally, the talk will be a call to action: to make the project more of a commons for all of those who see the value in open source for democratizing financial services.
This is a talk about our experiences with Fineract implementing it for our clients, the challenges we faced and how we overcame them. Most notable is how we dealt with performance issues, memory management and handling ever increasing number of requests coming in from various micro services.
Also based on our experiences, we'll also propose some improvements to Fineract that we believe will make it better going forward.
The needs of the 21st-century digital economy require financial services to be always on, real-time, and contextually embedded.
Yet, the current world of analog banking continues to be constrained by end-of-day processes; cut-off times and store and forward messaging, leaving a chasm between 21st century digital needs and the financial services that serve it. Fintechs bridge that chasm, bringing banking into the 21st century.
Red Hat announces the launch of a partnership program in support of the Fintech community.
Wes Wasson, Sofie Blakstad, Robert Timmer
Savings-led financial inclusion is finally being heralded for its deep impact and reach to the last mile. Countless individuals at the base of pyramid rely upon these informal savings groups of various forms in every region for a safe place to save and access to credit. A new breed of fintechs has emerged that are digitally transforming these groups with cutting edge technologies to provide the benefits of digitization with a powerful user experience the maintains that the high-touch, intimacy, and impact that has made them so successful. Our panel of four innovative fintechs have each pioneered their own unique approach to digitizing these most informal of financial services. We will take a closer look at why savings-led financial inclusion is so impactful in its various forms, the massive need and opportunity in digitally including members of these groups, the innovative approaches that have been taken to preserve group dynamics, and the benefits digitization entails - graduation to formal financial services, credit scoring and increased security, transparency, and financial literacy. These insights can help Fineract evolve as a robust back-end platform to better power these innovative last-mile solutions.
Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) are an emerging set of blockchain and cryptographic enabled solutions that taken together forms a national cryptocurrency. It has the support of the International Bank of Settlement (IBS) as a promising area of innovation. Can CBDCs challenge the status quo of banking systems? How does the CBDC allow the Central Bank to do clearing and settlements across different assets class better? What would a global architecture look like? What would cause Central Banks to adopt CBDCs? How does this relate to one basic-account-per-person provide for an economy? This is survey of the current discussion and speculation on the future of CBDCs.
Juan Esteban Saldarriaga, Uzoma Dozie, Javier Borkenztain
During this panel, the CEOs of two successful fintech companies in Colombia and Nigeria will take us through their companies journey in implementing Fineract.
Why did they choose Fineract as the engine to implement core banking software? What challenges did they face and how Fineract flexibility allowed them to sort them? How is the software scalability going along with the companies growth? His view on how Fineract can support all types of fintech projects?
As bigger and more complex organizations adopt Fineract as their core banking system it's becoming necessary to enhance many features to cope with the requirements of these organizations.
The accounting module available out of the box is designed to cater to transaction-related journal entries. This is not sufficient for larger organizations that require other accounting modules such as asset management, payroll, branch accounting, and richer analysis and reporting.
One option is to extend the accounting module in Fineract to include these features. The other option is to integrate with a mature ERP that has these features. After some analysis, it turned out that the second option is far better.
In this presentation, we are going to look at how we successfully integrated with Odoo. The challenges, wins, and opportunities.
Ed Cable, Jill Shemin, James Dailey, Karina Lizeth Ortiz Muñoz, Raul Salomon Almeraya Sibaja
In ApacheCon@Home 2020 we introduced this new effort and this year we report back on challenges and progress made:
OpenG2P is a digital public good digitizing large scale cash transfers with open source building blocks, recently designated by Digital Public Goods Alliance. Meanwhile GovStack is a global effort to define a set of building blocks, especially open source, for governments to leverage when building new systems.
These efforts, underway just in the last two years, are starting with the requirements for government services and building out open APIs between components. This discussion will be about the various architectural decisions, lessons learned and next phases of the project.
Aleksandar Vidakovic, Nayan Ambali, Istvan Molnar
"As the community gradually advances Fineract CN, as a cloud-native microservices application framework for digital financial services enabling highly scalable wallet and transactional accounts, Fineract 1.x continues to prove itself as a robust, mature. and feature-rich lending platform. From microfinance institutions serving millions, to digital credit providers delivering instant mobile loans, fintechs offering sophisticiated SME and working capital lending via complex algorithms, banks providing housing and property loans, to e-commerce companies providing consumer revolving lines of credit and buy now pay later, Fineract 1.x is at the heart of hundreds of institutions managing loans of all sizes, complexities, and delivery channels. The continued growth and adoption of Fineract 1.x across the ecosystem makes evident how reliable, relevant, and recognized it has become for its loan managment and why we must evolve its architecture.
This session will highlight a number of case studies demonstrating the scale, breadth of loan functionality, and complexity of lending use cases supported by Fineract 1.x and an active discussion amongst the most senior architects of solutions powered by Fineract on how the community can refactor and refine the existing Fineract 1.x architecture to enable greater scalability and improved performance, better maintainability and faster testing, ease of development, and higher modularity and extensibility while continuing to leverage the robust business logic it contains. This session will inform the roadmap of Fineract 1.x and collective efforts to refine it's architecture. "
Identity security, wallet balances, and payments capabilities do not extend to billions of people, partly because the hardware and software models are based on always on data and connectivity. What if hardware based security in an appropriate form factor could be used to secure off-grid payments, enable merchants and individuals to self- register with biometrics, and create an entirely new payment rails at the edge. This talk will explore the work we've done around this concept, and the linkages to blockchain and legacy payment and wallet systems.
Fintech organizations often share common problems in their engineering systems. Cultural inefficiencies, engineering silos, slow innovation, lack of quality mentorship, and collaboration are well-known issues. Apache way is often brought in to resolve those. During this ongoing pandemic, it's was proven that people can work productively from any geography when engineers collaborate effectively. ASF shared that lesson with tech world for 20 years. FinTech realized that Apache way is the bleed-ing edge engineering behaviors to follow and let's dig in how.
- Practicing Apache way behaviors within a firewall
- First choice of open source software
- Shifting away from Silo'ed Architecture
- Finding reusable patterns in problem-solving
- Interest in contributing back to open source communities
- Use the power of the community to lead innovation.
1.7 billion people lack financial access at all, but 6 billion are underserved. And by underserved I mean slow, expensive, and complex services. Let's focus on the entire financial system, rather than a part of it.
The principal raw material for the financial industry is money. And money is technology. This technology has been evolving since we used shells as a means of payment, and now it's digital. The excluded ones are from the digital economy. From the global economy. They are using cash, your access to services and products with cash is as far as your arm can reach to give it to another one. But the rest of us, the ones in the digital economy, we need much more.
With open source solutions, we can collaborate with others in ways we couldn't imagine before. A global solution for a global problem. Working in the Fineract community, we learn how to cooperate with others in other places. The world is moving that way very fast, and we develop solutions in a way the problems are generated.
The problems to be solved now are access problems, they are problems that ignore borders, and live in the cloud.
Financial technology has a long history of being siloed, hard to use, and based on antiquated infrastructure. The larger software development ecosystem however has always embraced open source, and collaboration. Recently we have been able to unlock the knowledge of how to build financial infrastructure through open source projects and community building. In this talk we'll discuss how simply giving people a forum to connect has fostered a strong community of engineers to rebuild financial primitives that are at once not a differentiator for anyone, but are a problem for everyone.
Apache Fineract is open-source financial software that offers entrepreneurs, financial institutions, and service providers a dependable, scalable, and cost-effective solution for providing financial services to the world's underserved.
It is a mature platform with open APIs that allows loan, account, and KYC management as a core banking framework.
Fineract platform is actually being used worldwide in 50 countries by more than 1000 institutions that take advantage of this efficient, modern, and cost-effective open-source alternative, to develop loan products, KYC, AML, and accounts tailored as required for their businesses.
We will review in-depth how digital bank, digital lender, and other innovative fintechs are using Fineract as there core financial platform.
Istvan Molnar, Godfrey Kutumela
A new frontier for payments is on the horizon with the continued widespread adoption of national real-time payment systems, the acceptance of global standards like ISO 20022, the emergence of open banking APIs for third party payment initiation, and the continued growth of mobile money. The Payment Hub EE - the open source bridge and microservices orchestration layer Mifos is building to seamlessly enable accounts and wallets managed on Fineract to initiate transactions over modern real-time payment rails via mobile channels and Open APIs, is equipping institutions with modern enterprise-grade architecture to harness these emerging trends around payments. This session will explore the emerging trends and standards around payments, a showcase of the Payment Hub EE and its roadmap in shaping our long-term vision to enable the sector to go beyond payments, remittances, and transfers to the next frontier of meaningful, value-added payments - for-purpose remittances, interoperable cross-border transfers, split payments to multiple parties, merchant/billpayer requests to pay, rich invoices, and more.
Art Muthiora, James Dailey, Rupesh Raikundalia, Luisa Martinez
Assessing the fit for Fineract with member-owned financial institutions in regulated markets. Credit Unions are organized around principles that align well with the mission of Fineract: financial inclusion and community based. That makes them natural partners. Their product mix of mortgage loans, credit services, and savings as well as connections to payment mechanisms are in line with the direction of Fineract and the Mifos open source components. This moderated panel discussion will dig into the functional alignment and define the process by which regulated credit unions could adopt the solution set.
Across the continent, Fineract is revolutionizing the delivery of financial services in Sub-Saharan Africa. From grassroots savings groups going the last mile, to SACCOs and microfinance institutions digitizing their operations in the cloud to innovative fintechs serving millions via digital financial services, to banks, telcos, and platfins reaching the mass markets - Fineract is leveling the playing field and democraitizing financial services though robust, open source core banking infrastructure.
This session will feature an esteemed panel of diverse players from the Mifos and Fineract ecosystem who will take about the massive opportunity to serve the needs of the Base and the Middle of the Pyramid, practical use case of Fineract on the continent, the trends that will transform the sector, the challenges in reaching the last mile, how the roadmap will be shaped by the latest trends, the potential of new innovation and business models that can be powered by Fineract, and the growing open source ecosystem and how Fineract is fueling that.
"There is growing interest in Fineract for Fintechs and banks." -Javier Borkenztain
The week of September 28th at ApacheCon @ home was terrific for the project. A big shout out goes to @Javier Borkenztain for all of his work to organize the first ever Fineract track at the ApacheCon. In some sense, the online version was probably a much better format for this group, especially for the first time. I get the sense that we built some important momentum.
The presentations and discussions are found here: https://www.youtube.com/theapachefoundation, and supporting slides are here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/17ahcInsVSu5R00BaJKfCs_wh2XnCtLh4
The "Birds of a Feather" discussions at the end of each day...were some of the most useful discussions about the future directions and challenges facing the Software Integrators and builders of the fineract platform(s). The last day session lasted until after 2am in the morning for our friends in Europe and I think one person stayed on past 3am in India. You all get the "night owl" award.
A few JIRA tickets were created related to some priorities we identified and I hope others will chime in with either comments or new email threads that cover new specific topics.
Modularize Fineract to allow something like e.g. the Pentaho integration to be built and run separately
Automated Load Testing Scenarios and Tooling
I think the interest shown by the community of developers and software integrators demonstrates a very positive progression.
As Micheal pointed out in his talk, we've had a lot of renewed interest in the past 12 months on the fineract1.x platform. We also heard from some software integrators about the directions that they would like to see taken by the community on both Fineract1.x and Fineract-CN and we hope to see those projects get on the upstream. We heard about the work around AI for All as it applies to the project and we got a taste of the solution set around payments integration with Mojaloop and the new efforts around authentication. We also got to hear about the importance of the project to financial inclusion and the need for a broad digital public good around G2P (govt to person) transfer payments.
I am sure others have their take-aways, mine is that Success breeds interest, begets momentum, drives project.
Fineract provides basic account functionality enabling a destination for relief payments, as well as functionality around lending programs. These are the building blocks for a low cost, highly scalable financial solution. As the world struggles to support people on lock-down and in the economic recovery, Fineract can be a key part of that strategy. Fineract provides the account of record appropriate for governments and banking institutions. Fineract alone isn't sufficient - and implementation should be done through one of the organizations best tooled for this, but this is a moment when an open source solution should be used to best advantage. The fast moving global nature of this disruption means that a globally oriented open source project can be very useful.
As Jill Shemin & I pointed out recently in a NextBillion.net article, https://nextbillion.net/informal-economy-complicating-covid19-response/
"In countries where a huge proportion of small and micro-businesses are informal, direct government-to-person (G2P) transfers will make the biggest impact. During a pandemic when delivery systems are stressed, investing in or fast-tracking digital G2P payment systems can be vital. Governments in these countries are focusing on scaling up payment and account systems that can be provided rapidly at very low cost – including to the informal economy."
In some ways this merely accelerates a conversation that has been happening for some time. CGAP, which is a part of the World Bank aimed at financial inclusion, released an analysis of G2P (government to people) Payment systems in September 2019. In part they note:
"Advanced G2P payments would make payments more reliable, convenient, and accessible at points of service much closer to where customers live and work. Customers empowered with greater choice can be less dependent on a single bank or local service point, and therefore, they are able to command better customer service."
It seems to me that systems that lower the cost of operations, that turn the account into a commodity are all building blocks for a much more responsive government to citizenry financial support system.
Building on this theme. One of the Community of users of Fineract, Art;Code, has posted their story of deployment in the cloud. https://medium.com/articode/announcing-fineract-as-a-service-an-on-demand-financial-core-3f38a0bf0a3a. This details how someone can provision a solution and begin to learn how the solution works. Such an innovation is useful for demonstrating functionality at a minimum and also points to the concept that banking as a service is, as we have said for some time now, a very doable value proposition.
The Mifos Initiative posted a rapid deployment in the cloud concept in March 2019 https://mifos.org/blog/tag/corent/.
So, this is where we are at: Fineract can help to provide an account of record for financial institutions and governments. This can be done at scale, with high performance and with help from strategic partners, to connect to payment systems rapidly. But, we will need all of the institutions and organizations who need this to also contribute back. Our model of coming together to build solutions should be very well adapted to these times.
More discussion May 6, 2020, at the Digital Development Forum.
James Dailey, Fineract PMC
Founder & Board Member Mifos Initiative
Open source projects need to communicate their vision and do it in a way that brings people together. I think that includes framing up both WHY you are doing the project, and HOW you are doing the project. The WHY for Fineract is to enable everyone to have access to financial services on stable, secure and forward looking platforms. The HOW are the many ways in which the project seeks contributions of code by volunteers who have a "scratch to itch". It is also important to make the project:
Accessible - as in, understandable to the interested person who wants to Contribute;
Maintainable - as in, abundantly clear documentation and code such that a new person of reasonable skill is not confused by the approach
Expandable - as in, flexible in the right ways to allow for new contributions as the needs arise / "extensible" is another word for it perhaps
When these things are present and the project participants are able to understand its direction how they can get on board, then we can see the virtuous cycle where new contributions are given, the code quality improves, and new users (in our case deployment or implementation companies) use the code and support the developers to continue to do so.
Today we are trying to do some important improvements to the Fineract platform (fineract1.x) and we are trying to bring Fineract-CN to a full release. The Fineract1.x releases are improving constantly and it seems that many entities are happy to continue to use it. Fineract-CN needs some finishing to get past the finish line. Once the Fineract-CN target is ready, then we can proceed with the idea of building a migration path from Fineract1.x to Fineract-CN. It could be that the migration path and tools are built only once and that fineract1.x becomes a stable but non-active codebase, or, it may be that over time the two code bases will converge in some way.
It's an exciting time for the project.
Google Summer of Code
Fineract participated in this year's Google Summer of Code with multiple interns and multiple projects
Ed Cable, Fineract Committer and PMC member, writes about his experiences as a mentor at the Google Summer of Code Mentor Summit 2017 here:
Google Code In
We've been excited to hear from the many students participating in Google Code-In introducing themselves on the Fineract dev mailing list. The future is bright!
In 2015, the Mifos Initiative, a 501(c)3 non-profit based in the United States, reached out the the Apache Foundation. Over the course of 2016 the software developers reporting to the Mifos technology team and other members of the broader community went through the process of aligning the software with the Apache License. In particular this meant removing pieces of the architecture, such as Hibernate(tm).
Coming out of efforts that began in 2002, the Mifos Initiative was already itself an active development project and had begun to see a wide use of the software across a range of FinTech disrupters, small banks, and Microfinance Institutions. The effort in 2015 was thus essentially a 'porting' of the software and documentation to the Apache infrastructure. This turned out to be non-trivial and involved several devs over months working on code changes.
This whole process lead to the first announcement of Apache Fineract on October 25, 2016 on list. The project was accepted by a vote of the Board of the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) on Dec 15, 2017.
On April 24th, 2017 "The Apache Software Foundation (ASF), the all-volunteer developers, stewards, and incubators of more than 350 Open Source projects and initiatives, announced today that Apache® Fineract™ has graduated from the Apache Incubator to become a Top-Level Project (TLP), signifying that the project's community and products have been well-governed under the ASF's meritocratic process and principles."
Important values were established by the initiative, including the importance of quality code, delivered for a wide range of potential uses, with a focus on financial inclusion.