Proto’s AI Customer Experience (AICX) solution for consumer protection has been deployed across 805 financial institutions, from retail banks to microfinance, in partnership with the Bank of Ghana and the African Development Bank’s Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI). This technology is also deployed across the financial ecosystems in Rwanda, Zambia, Côte d’Ivoire, and Liberia – and follows an original deployment with the Central Bank of the Philippines.
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.
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.
To solve this problem, the Bank of Ghana – the financial regulator of the West African country – 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. The Proto AICX solution was selected as part of a competitive process that received 340 bids, of which 74 were shortlisted and 6 approved by ADFI.
The Proto AICX solution is a multilingual chatbot that collects and categorizes consumer complaints across multiple channels and all financial institutions, with localized natural language understanding for Twi, which is spoken natively by over 58% of Ghanaians. The fundamental natural language processing (NLP) development is undertaken by Proto’s NLP team, recruited in part from the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences.
Proto CEO Curtis Matlock said: “This chatbot is available via highly-accessible channels such as SMS and voice-commands, which is essential for including bottom-of-the-pyramid consumers that contend with the digital divide and illiteracy. In addition to the immediate benefit of improved consumer recourse options, this solution has the wider potential to increase overall trust in the fairness of the country’s financial sector.”
This solution was initially deployed at the Central Bank of the Philippines (BSP) to automate handling of a consumer complaint volume growing at an average 87% year-on-year across 776 financial institutions. The solution developed by Proto for BSP includes a Facebook Messenger, website, and SMS chatbot capable of understanding Tagalog and the mixed-language Taglish, which handled a 4x complaints surge during the pandemic and supported a legislative push for stronger consumer protection laws.
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."
To ensure success, Proto’s supervisory technology (SupTech) advisory partner, BFA Global, conducted a market-wide human-centric design phase earlier in the year to collect baseline impact metrics. This phase was instrumental in customizing the Proto AICX solution to fit Ghana’s unique financial sector conditions. The baseline metrics will be compared to impact results in twelve months’ time.
With this deployment, financial consumers in Ghana – especially those from historically marginalized groups – now have improved access to financial consumer recourse, and the Bank of Ghana has set a new standard for conversational banking service in Africa.
Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI) is a pan-African initiative designed to catalyse digital financial inclusion throughout Africa with the goal of ensuring that 332 million more Africans, 60% of them women, gain access to the formal economy by 2030. Established in 2019, ADFI works to the African Development Bank’s High 5 to Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa, by catalysing inclusive digital financial services through the gender-intentional development of infrastructure, policies and regulations and product innovation. Current ADFI partners are the Agence française de developpement (AFD); the Ministry for the Economy & Finance, France; the Ministry of Finance, Luxembourg; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the African Development Bank, who host and manage the facility. More information at: www.adfi.org
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.
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 rare languages. Proto's novel deep-learning techniques and regulatory partnerships maximize customer experience, protection, and lifetime value.
About BFA Global
BFA Global is a research, advisory, data analytics and product innovation firm focused on the intersection of finance, data and technology. The team works with the world’s leading tech innovators, development organizations, policymakers, financial service providers (FSPs) and more to help build solutions that can contribute to more sustainable and inclusive economies. Founded in 2006 by David Porteous, BFA Global is headquartered in Boston and Nairobi, with additional offices in Medellín and New Delhi and a presence in Johannesburg, Lagos, Accra, Madrid, Mexico City and Paris. Today our flagship projects include Catalyst Fund and Finnsalud. Learn more at bfaglobal.com