From 14 May to 17 May, IFC and Microsave, in collaboration with the Vietnam Microfinance Working Group (VMFWG) successfully held a training workshop on “Digital Transformation for Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) and bank “in Ho Chi Minh City. The training funded by Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) attracted 26 participants from 09 microfinance institutions and 03 commercial banks in Vietnam.
Microfinance institutions (MFIs) and banks are increasingly facing pressure to go digital. The benefits are numerous, as Digital transformation of financial institutions may result in significant reduction in operational costs and considerable increase in outreach and efficiency along with a better focus on client centric solutions. However, making a digital transformation is complicated and the operational challenges can be overwhelming for institutions. Hence, there is a requirement for the financial institutions to develop a common vision for the digital transformation by fully recognising the variety of strategic and operational choices and the pros and cons of these. This training course was aim to help MFIs and banks to understand what digital transformation may mean to them, what strategic and operational options they have to implement digital financial services in their institutions, and the nuances of digital transformation such as the strategic planning, digital transformation of product, process, channel, and technology, risk management, and project and change management. These were also the important content presented in the 04 days of training.
Coming to the training course, participants expressed their desire to learn the knowledge of digital transformation and how to apply it to their practical business context. In addition, some participants shared their interest in working with fintech companies. They also would like to learn about the opportunities and challenges when cooporating with these companies.
The 4-day course was conducted in an interactive environment with up-to-date information presented according to current market trend. Participants were not only introduced to new knowledge but were also encouraged to participate in discussions and group exercises to apply the knowledge learned in practice. In particular, the openness of the participants from the bank on their digital transformation experience helped to increase the discussion atmosphere throughout the training. The course also helped microfinance institutions get better understanding about the practical application of technology in the operation of microfinance networks in Vietnam. Nguyen Thanh Ha, director of the VietED Foundation, said that their digital transformation project with SMS banking application was expected to be launched in June.
A great deal of information and practical case study was shared by Mr. David Cracknell, MicroSave’s Global Technical Director with more than more than two decades of experience in financial inclusion, banking, and enterprise development. His technical work focuses on developing and designing solutions for deposit mobilisation and digital finance, leading the advisory team to Equity Bank in Kenya and contributing to Safaricom’s M-PESA pilot test between 2005 and 2006. The training workshop was also led by Mr. Nitish Narain, Senior Manager in MicroSave’s Inclusive Finance and Banking with years of experiences gained through projects with multi-lateral agencies, central banks, banks and financial institutions, microfinance institutions, remittance companies, community-owned organisations, and digital finance service providers in Bangladesh, India, Kenya, Myanmar, Qatar, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.
On a scale of 1 to 5, the majority of participants rated the workshop content as Good, according to 77% of the students scored between 4 and 5. Similar to the overall level of satisfaction with the course, 73% of the students scored on a scale of 4 – 5, none of the participants chose scores lower than 3. Overall, most participants were satisfied with the knowledge and skills presented, as well as the ability to answer questions from the instructors with the most selections falls on a scale of 4 – 5. One of the weaknesses that need to be overcome was the somewhat poor application of international knowledge under the unique context of Vietnam market and regulatory framework, represented in 61% of students chose a scale from 2 to 3 for this content.
To improve the quality of the course, trainees provided some ideas such as: lecturers should give more case studies relevant to the actual situation in Vietnam, and specific examples for each content. Also, trainers should incorporate the lessons of failure from the application of digital transformation in other countries rather than just focus on successful lessons…etc.
At the end of the 4-day training workshop, 26 trainees were awarded with certificates issued by IFC.