How tech and AI can help the UAE's underbanked, according to Rise co-founder Padmini Gupta

Says an AI-powered chatbot can assist 20,000 unique customers a week.
UAE, United Arab Emirates, Tech, Society, Technology, People, Business, Banking, Underbanking, Equality, Middle East

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Padmini Gupta, the co-founder of Rise, says millions of low-income people in the region – including many in the UAE – are without bank accounts, leaving them open to exploitation from loan sharks and employers and unprepared to deal with major life events, or plan their retirement.

Financial technology can help address the problems of millions of people in the UAE and around the world who remain unbanked or underbanked, according to Padmini Gupta, the co-founder of Rise, a Dubai-based wealth management start-up that caters to domestic employees and low-income workers.

In an interview with Arabian Business, Gupta said that millions of low-income people in the region – including many in the UAE – are without bank accounts, leaving them open to exploitation from loan sharks and employers and unprepared to deal with major life events, or plan their retirement.

“If you are an expat in the UAE, or anywhere in the world, you would probably have multiple companies call seeking to manage your wealth, open offshore accounts for you, give you loans or even help you plan your retirement and return back home,” she said. “Nobody does this for low income migrants.”

Technology, Gupta added, can help solve some of these issues.

In the case of Rise, which was founded in 2016, the company is using technology, including artificial intelligence, to help provide service to low income workers at what she said is 20 times cheaper then legacy financial institutions.

“We leverage a proprietary AI chat bot to engage our customers in a conversational format across a range of financial topics, from literacy, to financial health to planning ad opening accounts,” she said.

“We are experimenting with voice-powered AI as well, but it is in its early stages, but once ready we can extend our services to people who prefer using voice as the primary communications medium,” she added.

According to Gupta, since its inception, Rise’s chat bot has handled over 2.5 million messages and is currently serving over 20,000 unique users each week.

In December 2017, Rise announced a partnership with United Arab Bank (UAB) to help open salary accounts for the UAE’s underbanked population.

“We undertake the acquisition and service, while the funds sit with United Arab Bank and are protected by UAE deposit protection schemes,” Gupta said.

“Our customers can reach us on our app, but most prefer to engage with us on our chatbot on top of Facebook messenger.”

Additionally, Rise offers over 50 e-learning courses designed to help domestic helpers become better childcare providers and increase their earning potential.

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