Atsumasa Tochisako

Ashoka Fellow
Washington, United States
Fellow Since 2007
My work: accelerating economic growth in thriving immigrant communities by promoting access to credit.

Check out this video of Atsumasa Tochisako's work


Related TopicsBusiness & Social Enterprise, Financial services / markets, Microenterprise, Development & Prosperity, Poverty alleviation


This profile was prepared when Atsumasa Tochisako was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
Through Microfinance International Corporation (MFIC), Atsumasa provides needed financial services to populations ignored by mainstream banks, and pushes other financial institutions to do the same. Where financial institutions see laborers without stable income or credit histories, Atsumasa sees hard-working individuals fulfilling their familial responsibilities—that is, good credit risks. His one-stop microfinance storefronts are demonstrating how the information inherent in responsible remittance-transfer behavior can be used to ease immigrants toward an array of more complex financial products.

Then, through its financial-settlement platform, MFIC brings partners aboard to level the playing field between small, local MFIs in developing countries and sophisticated international financial institutions. Atsumasa’s ARIAS software tool connects local MFIs in home countries to not only his own storefronts in migration destinations, but also to major banks that have licensed the tool. With only a computer, an internet connection, and ARIAS, MFI networks can accept and distribute remittances in local communities. With that channel at his disposal, Atsumasa is creating the world’s first transnational financial services (including mortgages, home-improvement loans and insurance in home countries) based on migrants’ creditworthiness, bringing those services to the world’s fastest-growing economic unit: The transnational family. ARIAS is a unique software offered for the first time in the financial industry, equipped with a real-time front-end regulatory compliance verification module and a real-time fund-settlement system. The system is designed to invite positive participation of banks, to cause hyper-competition in the remittance market (so that the remittance cost will be gradually lowered) and to improve the industry’s compliance performance, dramatically making the financial infrastructure serving immigrants solid and sustainable.

Atsumasa’s work provides the practical infrastructure to turn the multibillion-dollar cash transfer industry into an engine for long-term economic improvement, by equipping nonbanking service providers, both at home and in worker destinations, to serve their poor clients with appropriate and comprehensive services. In developing countries he is planning to lend the securitized “float” from remittance transfers to small MFIs who reach the poorest of the poor. In the process, he empowers them to begin providing more creative and comprehensive financial services, moving beyond the traditional microcredit models. In worker destinations, a second electronic platform will allow the ailing money service companies (currently only cashing checks or transferring cash) to begin replicating the array of financial services demonstrated by Atsumasa’s functioning storefronts.

Think tanks and development banks long have debated the role that remittances can play in broader development efforts. Atsumasa is leveraging them to recreate the microcredit industry to reach all members of the world’s poor families with the specialized, quality financial services they deserve.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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