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Emergent Payments and Proto partner to deploy chatbot payments across Africa's merchants


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Integrated solution between Emergent Payments and Proto to power pan-African payment processing with local language automation.

Africa's merchants face a major scalability dilemma as they expand payment services across their country and over borders. In nearly every country on the continent, merchants have no choice but to use these outdated payments processes:

  • Teams of human agents that collect cash from customers
  • Requiring customers to wait in long queues at physical payment points
  • Asking customers to travel to make cash deposits at traditional retail banks

This results is a poor customer experience, difficulties during reconciliation, and exclusion of local and historically-marginalised consumers. Emergent Payments overcomes this challenge by offering merchants a secure and reliable digital method to accept online payments and mobile money transfers sent by customers via secure webpages.

Similarly, customer support automation in Africa faced access problems, with chatbot languages limited to English, French and Portuguese – excluding the majority of native-speaking financial consumers who form the backbone of many developing economies in Africa. Recently, Proto’s localized chatbots for languages such as Twi, Kinyarwanda and Bemba powered the AI-enabled consumer engagement for central banks and financial service providers (FSPs) in multiple countries, with support from the African Development Bank.

Emergent and Proto recognized the demand from merchants to go beyond channeling customers into secure webpages. While useful, these pages also present an access problem for customers with limited internet access due to the gender and digital divides on the continent. Indeed, most customers prefer to use messaging apps such as WhatsApp and FB Messenger or SMS to engage in commerce, in line with the rapidly-growing chat banking trend.

The integrated solution to be deployed by Emergent across its merchants are multilingual chatbots capable of processing payments within the chat interface. This provides for a more inclusive and seamless native-language experience for customers.

Emergent Payments Managing Director Saqib Nazir said: "Africa's growing consumer base, including those at the bottom of the pyramid, are adopting mobile money as a means to pay for goods and services. We are excited to partner with Proto to offer localised payment processing for our merchants. Now, our merchants can localise their digital offering to speak the language of their customers.”
Proto CEO Curtis Matlock said: "Emergent and Proto are similar innovators, advancing financial service delivery in Africa. As we've both experienced, it is essential for merchants to offer their customers a 100% localised experience with seamless payments within the conversational interface.”

Emergent's integration with Proto’s AI Customer Experience (AICX) platform will be complete in October 2021, with chatbots deployable across merchants immediately.

About Emergent Payments

Emergent Payments is the pre-eminent payments provider for digital merchants expanding into high-growth markets, with full payments coverage in all major emerging regions in Asia Pacific, Latin America, Middle East and Africa. With a single integration, Emergent gives digital merchants access to hundreds of local payment methods around the world.

About Proto

Proto is the leader for inclusive AI Customer Experience (AICX) solutions for multilingual contact centres in emerging markets, with a vertically-integrated support automation product suite and proprietary natural language processing (NLP) engine for under-resourced and rare languages. Proto's deep-learning technology and regulatory partnerships maximise customer experience, protection, and lifetime value.

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