Managing Microfinance with Paper, Pen and Digital Slate

  • Aishwarya Ratan ,
  • Sunandan Chakraborty ,
  • Pushkar V. Chitnis ,
  • Kentaro Toyama ,
  • Keng Siang Ooi ,
  • Matthew Phiong ,
  • Mike Koenig

Proc. of the 4th IEEE/ACM Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and International Development (ICTD) 2010, London, UK, Proc. of ICTD 2010 |

Published by IEEE

India’s extensive Self-Help Group (SHG) microfinance network brings formal savings and credit services to 86 million poor households. Yet, the inability to maintain high-quality records remains a persistent weakness in SHG functioning. We study this problem and present a financial record management application built on a low-cost digital slate prototype. The solution directly accepts handwritten input on ordinary paper forms and provides immediate electronic feedback. A field trial with 200 SHG members in rural India shows that the use of the digital slate solution results in shorter data recording time, fewer incorrect entries, and more complete records. The paper-pen-slate solution performs as well as, and is strongly preferred over, a purely electronic alternative. The digital slate solution is able to comfortably move between paper and digital worlds, achieving efficiency and quality gains while catering to the preferences and budgets of low-income low-literate clients.