If you thought your bank was a little too blasé about responding to your complaint, help is at hand. Consumer protection just got more robust. Say hullo to Intumwa Chatbot.
Say you notice a misdirected transaction on your account, and you naturally go and report it to your bank. Days later, and still nothing has been done to correct the error, the bank seems rather nonchalant about it all, but what can you do, you have to keep asking, pleading, cajoling, tearing your hair out.
Well, no longer. Now, if you are not satisfied with the way a bank, or any financial services provider, which is regulated under the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR), is dealing with your complaint, you can take both your original complaint, and whichever institution’s poor service, to Intumwa Chatbot.
Over the last decade, the National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) and its partners, have done much to widen financial inclusion in Rwanda, with the result that now, almost 9 out 10 Rwandans are in some way or other, financially included.
As access to financial services has increased however, so has the realisation of the limitation of consumer protection.
In addition, awareness of the protections there were, was limited to a small demographic of mainly literate, urban males, with access to digital services. People on low incomes, with low levels of literacy, in rural areas especially, were effectively excluded from complaint resolution processes.
There were also limitations within BNR itself. Complaints were dealt with manually, which was both time consuming and inadequate, for dealing with the inevitably growing volume of complaints.
The answer for BNR, with the support of the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility (ADFI), was to establish Intumwa chatbot.
“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” said ADFI coordinator, Sheila Okiro.
The complaints service can be accessed in all of Rwanda’s official languages, beginning with Kinyarwanda, of course, English and French. Users need not be online to complain. They can send SMS, or even telephone to complain.
For those with access to the internet, the process is quick, user friendly, and easy to track. The financial institution about which the complaint is lodged, is able to follow the complaint, and may wish at any stage contact the complainant to resolve the issue.
But if you are still not satisfied, you can send the complaint all the way up to the National Bank of Rwanda itself. It is an undoubtedly big step in empowering the consumer, and one that is likely to influence a change in how financial services providers, respond to their customers’ complaints.
For BNR director of Market Conduct Supervision, Gerard Nsabimana, the service should welcome to both consumers, and financial services providers.
The system will facilitate financial service consumers to raise their complaints and get feedback via different virtual channels. Our expectation is that the system will be beneficial for both financial service consumers and financial service providers” he said.
For more information on Intumwa chatbot, that may not be covered in this article, you can telephone BNR, on 0788199000.