Proto is selected from 377 applicants across 77 countries for the Inclusive Fintech 50 – sponsored by Visa, MetLife Foundation, and Jersey Overseas Aid, with support from Accion and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group.
The Inclusive Fintech 50 selects fintechs with solutions for credit, insurance, payments & remittances, savings & personal financial management, or infrastructure that address challenges of underserved customer segments. This year's cohort had a special focus on resiliency, given that accessible financial services proved a stabliziling force for low-income households and businesses during the pandemic.
MetLife Foundation's President and CEO Tia Hodges said: “This exemplary group of IF50 winners demonstrates the impactful role that fintechs play in expanding access to innovative, affordable, and client-centric financial solutions. The shift from basic access and inclusion to a focus on creating sustainable financial health is key to building stronger communities for the long term.
Visa's Global Head of Social Impact Beth Hurvitz added: "Visa believes that digital equity and inclusion are key components of rebuilding for a more inclusive and equitable world, and congratulates this cohort of IF50 winners who are critical to help achieve this vision."
Proto was recognized for its multilingual contact centre automation in emerging financial service markets in Africa and Asia, where Proto chatbots are deployed by central banks and financial institutions for consumer engagement and protection.
Following the global financial inclusion initiative, there are large volumes of first-time consumers in need of local language support via SMS and messaging apps. Proto's Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology gathers massive data from national financial ecosystems, and advances machine understanding of local languages such as Kinyarwanda, Twi, and Tagalog. Proto's chatbots enable regulators and operators to overcome the digital and gender divides that often prevent the extension of financial services to bottom-of-the-pyramid consumers.
During the pandemic, Proto's deployments achieved the following:
- Handled a 4x surge in complaints across 700+ institutions and supported strengthened consumer protection legislation in the Philippines
- Expanded to national financial ecosystems in Ghana, Rwanda and Zambia with competitive support from the African Development Bank
- Served financial institutions ranging from digital banks in Nigeria to an FX platform covering 25 countries and 11 local languages
Proto's CEO Curtis Matlock said: "It is an honour for Proto to be singled out by a judge panel that represents the world's largest financial institutions and impact investors. Awards like this are humbling and a by-product of working against the odds to scale inclusive fintech in emerging markets."
Global impact investing is still skewed towards the Western world, with Africa and Asia having just 13% of such assets despite holding 76.84% of the world population. The challenges faced by inclusive fintechs are compounded by non-impact VCs tending to perceive social impact missions as contrary to high-growth venture building.
Accion's CEO Jared Miller said: "The winners of this year’s Inclusive Fintech 50 have stepped forward during COVID-19 to responsibly serve a growing set of underserved consumers and MSMEs. Today, these tech-enabled, specialist firms foster financial wellness and resilience in a uniquely challenging operating context. They are beacons of inspiration for stakeholders and an emergent set of entrepreneurs looking to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges."
Accion is a global nonprofit committed to creating a financially inclusive world, with a pioneering legacy in microfinance and fintech impact investing. We catalyze financial service providers to deliver high-quality, affordable solutions at scale for the three billion people who are left out of – or poorly served by – the financial sector. For 60 years, Accion has helped tens of millions of people through our work with more than 170 partners in 55 countries. For more information, visit accion.org.
IFC – a member of the World Bank Group – is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2020, we invested $22 billion in private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.
About Jersey Overseas Aid & Comic Relief
In 2018, Comic Relief and Jersey Overseas Aid announced a four-year £8 million partnership called ‘Branching Out: Financial Inclusion at the Margins’ to improve access to affordable financial services for those at the margins of society in Sierra Leone, Rwanda and Zambia. Comic Relief and Jersey Overseas Aid believe that one of the best ways to do this is by transferring knowledge to build responsible and inclusive financial systems, incubating FinTech, and focusing on service delivery to increase bottom-of-the-pyramid access to financial services including bank accounts, savings, insurance and credit, providing low-income households with the means to plan for the future as well as unexpected events. The partnership grants support a diverse set of organisations, made up of international and local NGOs, with each grantee delivering programmes designed to meet different community and national needs in addressing financial inclusion. For more information, visit joa.je.
About MetLife Foundation
At MetLife Foundation, we are committed to expanding opportunities for low- and moderate-income people around the world. We partner with nonprofit organizations and social enterprises to create financial health solutions and build stronger communities, while engaging MetLife employee volunteers to help drive impact. Our financial health work has reached more than 17.3 million low- and moderate-income individuals in 42 countries. For more information, visit metlife.org.
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. 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. For more information, visit proto.cx.
Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) is the world’s leader in digital payments. Our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, reliable and secure payment network – enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. Our advanced global processing network, VisaNet, provides secure and reliable payments around the world, and is capable of handling more than 65,000 transaction messages a second. The company’s relentless focus on innovation is a catalyst for the rapid growth of connected commerce on any device, and a driving force behind the dream of a cashless future for everyone, everywhere. As the world moves from analog to digital, Visa is applying our brand, products, people, network and scale to reshape the future of commerce. For more information, visit visa.com.