Proto is the leader for inclusive chatbots and multilingual contact centre automation in emerging markets. Proto’s AI Customer Experience (AICX) platform is powered by proprietary natural language processing (NLP) for under-resourced and mixed languages. The Proto team has successfully developed novel deep-learning techniques and regulatory partnerships to maximize consumer experience, protection, and lifetime value across 20+ emerging markets.
About Bank of Ghana
The Bank of Ghana oversees financial policies in the country, working to ensure stability while boosting financial inclusion and growth. They work extensively to expand access to finance to underserved segments of society.
Ghana is Africa’s leader in the adoption of digital financial services and usership of mobile money, with the objective to increase financial inclusion to at least 85% within the next two years. In 2022, 68.2% of the adult population had a bank account according to Global Findex (the World Bank's Financial Inclusion database), more than double compared to 2011 (29.4%).
However, with more first-time financial users than ever before, access to consumer protection in the country is still limited. The current process for consumer complaints relies upon consumers’ ability to speak or write fluently in the dominant language of the financial services industry – English. Furthermore, complaints channels are limited to email and in-person kiosks, which favour urban consumers who do not face digital and physical infrastructure barriers.
Based on BFA Global’s Impact Assessment Report for Ghana, less than 5% of the population has access to central bank branches and less than 10% has access to the internet and sufficient level of literacy to file the complaints online, resulting in less than 1% of the financial consumers using the current available channels.
Besides the inaccessibility problem, the Bank of Ghana's reliance upon manual processes and outdated systems caused delays on processing the limited number of complaints received - it took up to 20 days for their staff to analyse, access and process a complaint. Only 68% of the complaints received were successfully handled in 2020 which negatively impacted the stability of the financial system and discouraged consumers from participating in the formal financial sector - 16.7% of the adults who don’t have an account express the reason is lack in trust in financial institutions.
Reporting was also a major issue for financial institutions - nearly all use complaints data to inform management decisions and product/service improvements, yet the vast majority only compile these on a monthly or quarterly basis. In terms of reports to the regulator, all current channels for submitting regular reports (email, web portal upload, and physical submission) are labor-intensive and subject to security concerns.
As CGAP has previously noted, “Ensuring that [Financial Service Providers] have the necessary reliability and public trust to become a pillar of inclusive finance means establishing effective consumer protection” and that it is a “a cornerstone of accountability to customers and regulators, and thus a tenet of good practice, to require each provider to set up a system for handling customer complaints.”
To solve this problem, the Bank of Ghana has deployed Proto’s automated consumer protection solution nationwide. This deployment is supported by the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI), with over USD $1 million to contribute to its goal to catalyse digital financial inclusion across the continent, increasing access and protection for vulnerable financial service consumers.
Their AI-enabled multilingual chatbot collects and categorizes consumer complaints across multiple channels and all financial institutions, it speaks English and has localized natural language understanding for Twi, which is spoken natively by over 58% of Ghanaians. The chatbot was already deployed to webchat and Messenger and will be deployed to SMS, WhatsApp, and Twitter within the next month.
BOG now provides 24/7, easily accessible complaint channels for consumers accross 805 financial institutions in Ghana with unlimited capacity to handle cases and immediately forward them to the responsible financial institution for resolution - with BOG acting as an intermediate with access to view all complaints information and status. This solution provides more robust consumer protection, faster turnarounds, and is easily accessible for consumers, leading to increased financial inclusion.
The platform also offers an easy way to access consistent and complete data so BOG can use trend analysis to identify market misconduct for faster policymaking.
ADFI Coordinator Sheila Okiro said: “Facilitation of sound policies and regulations, including those that enhance consumer protection and catalyze financial inclusion, is a key mandate for ADFI. With the proliferation of digital financial services, the financial industry needs innovative mechanisms for consumer recourse and tracking for regulators."
Since April 2022 and even before the official launch and awareness campaign occurred, the automated consumer protection system has already shown significant results in engagement and inclusion. In several cases with the previous manual system, the stats were not gathered, thus limiting regulator insights and policy-making.
The INTUMWA complaints chatbot is deployed across the websites of Rwanda’s banks for maximum exposure to consumers in need of protection. These banks can choose to upgrade the chatbot with additional capabilities for general customer support, payments, and account management.
The INTUMWA complaints chatbot is deployed across the websites of Rwanda’s insurance providers for maximum exposure to consumers in need of protection. These insurance providers can choose to upgrade the chatbot with additional capabilities for general customer support, claims, and coverage applications.
The Proto team is very proud to have contributed to the Bank of Ghana’s goal of increasing financial inclusion by providing a robust, automated consumer protection solution. This is a crucial step toward ensuring financial stability and consumer trust in the Ghanaian financial system.
As financial inclusion advances globally, regulators should be mindful that reliance upon existing manual processes risks failing to comply with consumer protection legislation and abandoning financial consumers to misconduct without recourse.
Regulators are responsible to take action to protect consumers from these risks by using advanced technology to match this increased volume of first-time consumers with protection systems designed for equal scale and complexity in order to ensure consumer protection, trust in the financial system, and stability of the financial system. Consumer protection is highly dependent on efforts to enhance inclusion and stability.
Proto is the leader in inclusive chatbots and already works with other regulators such as the Central Bank of the Philippines, National Bank of Rwanda, Bank of Zambia and Zambia’s Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) to address the consumer protection problem and bring accessible recourse to consumers.
Innovation in Financial Supervision: One Key to Unlock Inclusive Digital Financial Services.
Proto and BFA Global are developing and deploying complaints-handling systems for financial regulators, using multi-lingual chatbots and Artificial Intelligence that interface with key financial service providers in Ghana, Rwanda and Zambia. The systems incorporates key local languages for ease of use, record customer complaints, including audio complaints from those unable to read and write, and track their resolution across all regulated financial institutions.
This initiative is supported with a grant of USD 1 million from the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI) to contribute to its goal to catalyse digital financial inclusion across the continent, increasing access and protection for vulnerable financial service consumers.
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