Following its success in developing an award-winning, financial complaints management system and artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot for Tagalog, English, and Taglish for the Central Bank of the Philippines, technology innovator Proto is pleased to announce a partnership with Nairobi and Boston-based BFA Global.
Proto was selected for the Philippines project through a competitive process led by the RegTech for Regulators Accelerator (R²A), sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Omidyar Network, and USAID. R²A is managed by BFA Global and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors — with both partners providing extensive global expertise in technology, policy development, and data literacy.
Proto and BFA Global recently teamed up again to deploy this solution in response to ballooning consumer complaint volumes across central banks in Africa. Complaints are rising as new consumers gain access to the banking system through the rapid growth in digital financial services from existing and new financial service providers; however, the existing complaint channels, such as email and walk-in kiosk, favour urban and wealthy consumers. With the chatbot's deployment via SMS networks, the solution extends national financial recourse systems across rural areas and historically marginalized groups to ensure financial inclusion and the collection of insightful data for policy-making.
Proto and BFA Global are collaborating with 10 African financial regulatory authorities, including Nigeria, Ghana, Tunisia, Burundi and Zambia in a first phase. In total, these banking systems host just over 142M bank accounts (Findex 2017), illustrating the need to properly address the current trend — which, in the case of the Philippines, is an average annual complaint case growth of 87% — before it impacts millions more.
This technology “will result not just in automating repetitive and manually laborious tasks...the chatbot solution would also free up Central Bank of the Philippines’s resources that may be allocated or re-purposed to cater to other concerns like policy development,” said Pia Roman Taya, Director of Center for Learning and Inclusion Advocacy at the Central Bank of the Philippines.
“We couldn’t wish for a better partner. The alliance between Proto and BFA Global will allow us to make a real difference and measure financial inclusion outcomes as we expand our technology to underserved financial consumers in Africa,” said Proto CEO Curtis Matlock, adding, “The high level of interest from central bank governors and heads of consumer protection demonstrates a real need to support historically marginalized groups such as women and those living in rural areas.”
“We are excited for this opportunity to collaborate with Proto to scale our long-running contributions in the RegTech for Regulators and SupTech spaces under the R²A program,” said Amolo Ng’weno, CEO of BFA Global. “We continue to focus on measuring the empowerment of the least served populations who stand to benefit most from these mass-market focused consumer protection services.”
Proto’s expansion into emerging sub-Saharan markets is enabled via a partnership with the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), which will allow Africa's brightest engineering talent to join the Proto team and apply their machine learning expertise to complex natural language processing problems in under-resourced languages such as Igbo, Yoruba, Swahili and Arabic.
Both Proto and BFA Global are working at the frontiers of developing improved business models for equitable inclusion in African markets. Together, they are committed to equity, building empowerment and financial literacy in the increasingly complex and digital world.
Proto, the market leader in AI Customer Experience (AICX) solutions for multilingual contact centers, serves emerging markets and customer segments with a vertically-integrated customer experience product suite and proprietary natural language processing (NLP) engine for non-English languages. Proto’s deep-learning technology and domain expertise increases automation rates and maximizes customer lifetime value.
About BFA Global
BFA Global is an international consulting firm that uses finance, data, and technology to craft innovative solutions which equip individuals, organizations, and communities to create sustainable and inclusive economies. Together, with their partners and clients, they seek to empower people to address their vulnerabilities and shape their own futures.