Microfinance institutions to expand branch networks through satellite technology

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Both Kenya’s and Uganda’s Microfinance institutions will now be in a position to install Automated Teller Machines as well as provide money transfer services in remote areas in both Uganda and Kenya using Satellite technology.

Behind the project is a Belgiam firm SatADSL which will provide financial and school broadcasting services with internet connectivity to remote areas by offering small VSAT equipment with dish linked to the satellite which will increase financial services penetration by being connected to ATMs in rural areas.

The small VSAT equipment can be configured for ATM, corporate networks connectivity, money transfer and virtual private networks applications in areas not served by the national electricity grid. It is also capable of providing various options and become a one-stop-shop for customers for services ranging from low-cost transaction based or back-up to unlimited services. Powered by a small solar panel, the equipment provides real-time ATM and money transfer transactions on real-time basis by running less than 30 watts of electricity. A laptop consumes about 70 watts of power.

East Africa has limited terrestrial telecommunications coverage outside of urban areas where the population is less dense. Telecommunication links where available may not be as reliable as needed by professional users. Mobile phone operators are setting pace of providing low-cost banking  putting pressure on banks to embrace technology but also be innovative through customer oriented corporate culture and service delivery.

Banks in Ghana, Cameroon and Zambia have used VSAT to deploy ATMs in remote areas. The equipment can be used to avail internet connectivity by creating low cost hot spots with 100 megabits sold for about $ 1.

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The equipment is expected to provide high quality communications and internet connectivity to corporate offices, bank agencies as well as mining sites in locations where terrestrial services are either are unreliable or not available.


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