ICT helping to scale up microfinance: the case of a successful bank-MFI partnership in Brazil
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Finding ways to downscale microfinance is one of the current challenges facing commercial banks, especially in developing countries. As banks have a poor knowledge of microfinance, operating in this market will require capacity-building, innovative business models and new technological architectures. This paper discusses how one particular architecture - the Brazilian model of correspondent banking (CB) -is helping banks cope with these challenges. Since the model was created, in 2000, it has allowed banks to downscale financial services outside their traditional branches and establish successful partnerships with local microfinance institutions (MFIs). The authors focus on one particular case involving a partnership between an accredited MFI (Banco Palmas) and two major banks (Banco do Brasil e Caixa Econmica Federal), to make the argument that the Brazilian CB model represents an innovation at the 'meso level', defined by Helms (2006) as the infrastructure comprising a network of service providers necessary to the operation of MFIs.