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Empowering regulators from the Philippines to Rwanda with AI consumer protection

5

min read

Published:
August 22, 2023

In an era of mass digital adoption, effective citizen engagement and consumer protection is critical for ensuring confidence in governmental and financial systems. Proto's AI Citizen Experience (AICX) solution has been at the forefront of automating the consumer protection process for government agencies as they undergo digital transformation.

Since 2018, the Proto AICX solution has evolved through three phases, in partnership with supervisory technology accelerators such as the Cambridge SupTech Lab and RegTech for Regulators Accelerator, with support from donors including the Gates Foundation, Omidyar Network, Asian Development Bank and the African Development Bank.

Each technical phase has leveraged the latest techniques in deep-learning and natural language processing to drive the most efficient approach to resolving citizen cases in low-resourced languages such as Tagalog, Kinyarwanda and Twi, and mixed languages such as Taglish (Tagalog + English). This evolution has been especially important in the developing world, where the use of new digital services and financial products with limited track-records has exploded as a consequence of national financial inclusion strategies and the COVID pandemic.

In parallel to this enduser growth, governments must find efficient ways to go beyond reactive complaint resolution and start proactively responding to scams, poor citizen experiences, and new service providers with a move-fast-and-break-things mentality. Artificial intelligence, controlled and delivered through supervisory technology (SupTech) platforms like Proto, offers this evolving capability for multilingual complaint triaging, consumer awareness, and regulatory action.

Phase 1: Complaint Triaging

AI-based categorization and resolution monitoring

The first phase of Proto's AICX solution focused on addressing the challenge of central banks and consumer authorities to manually process growing volumes of consumer complaints, often submitted with typos, hard-to-decipher emotional text, and local and mixed languages. Recognizing the limitations of existing manual processes, Proto developed highly-specialised chatbots capable of dynamically recognising entities – such as institution names, product & service categories and geographic locations – from large volumes of complaints in real-time. The first application of this AICX solution was for the Central Bank of the Philippines with the support of the RegTech for Regulators Accelerator.

These phase-one chatbots enabled consumers to lodge complaints against financial service providers through multiple digital messaging channels, such as websites, SMS and Facebook Messenger. The automated complaint triaging system significantly improved accessibility, reduced response times and ensured efficient complaint resolution. Notably, during the COVID pandemic, the Central Bank of the Philippines maintained its seven day resolution time despite a 4x surge in cases that would have linearly caused a two-year case resolution timeline with the previous manual system.

Phase 2: Consumer Awareness

Reaching bottom-of-the-pyramid consumers

Building on the results of the complaint triaging, Proto's AICX solution extended its capability to ensure bottom-of-the-pyramid citizens have access to the chatbots. It became evident that effective consumer protection goes beyond complaint resolution; it also involves educating consumers about their rights, available financial services, and recourse options. This was especially important during the expansion of the solution into Sub-Saharan Africa for the central banks and consumer authorities in Ghana, Liberia, Rwanda and Zambia, with the support of the African Development Bank. The most extensive case of the chatbots’ outreach capability was the National Bank of Rwanda, which mandated integration of their INTUMWA chatbot directly into their regulated financial service providers to ensure front-line consumer awareness.

Beyond complaint triaging, INTUMWA’s integration into the financial service providers website and complaints systems provided total supervisory capability in Rwanda for all stages of complaint resolution, as well as immediate availability of recourse to consumers. As of the case study, 73% of the 1.44M messages via INTUMWA have come directly from the integrations – demonstrating the value of this direct exposure of the government’s consumer protection options to bottom-of-the-pyramid citizens who are unlikely to research their recourse options.

Phase 3: Regulatory Action

Proactive monitoring and misconduct detection

The third and ongoing phase of Proto's AICX solution is the enablement of regulators to take proactive measures to safeguard consumer interests. While the triaging and awareness advancement in previous years solved critical pain points, the volume of structured complaints data offered by the chatbots offered the opportunity for rapid detection and proactive policy-making for patterns of consumer harm, such as scams. Combining the complaints data with public sentiment analysis across social media, in partnership with Proto's marketplace partners like Winnow Technologies, the AICX solution is evolving to identify potential instances of misconduct in real-time in order to alert regulators to take action.

Armed with this correlated data, government agencies will be able to push bad-actors onto the backfoot and enhance overall market integrity. Recently, the Proto AICX solution was selected by the University of Cambridge's SupTech Lab for this third-phase upgrade and deployment at the Bank of Ghana and OJK Indonesia.

These advancements to Proto's AICX solution will be shared across all government agencies currently deployed, per Proto commitment to ensure inclusive and highly-effective consumer protection. Indeed, while the AI customer experience industry – especially with generative AI – offers exceptional profit opportunities for vendors, Proto will remain dedicated to applying its know-how, in partnership with SupTech industry leaders, to ensure government deployments are sustainable and deliver rapid protection for citizens.

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Written by
Curtis Matlock

Curtis Matlock is CEO of Proto. He leads globally distributed teams to achieve social impact and growth objectives. To reach Curtis, please write to him at curtis@proto.cx.