Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

CommBank opens AI efforts to the world to prevent financial abuse

Financial control and abuse happens, and not just from the folks trying to scam us out of our money. Fortunately, machine learning could help, and an Aussie bank might just help the world with it.

There’s more than one way to feel a financial loss, and while investment scams are a big drain on Australian wallets, they’re not the only one.

An area often referred to as “technology-facilitated abuse” is where an abusive partner may control the money in a relationship, and uses harassment and further abuse to keep their pattern of abuse intact.

It’s essentially another way to keep on abusing someone, creating further distress. Frustratingly, this only reinforces the situation for the victim, and makes it more difficult for them to get out.

However, Commonwealth Bank (CBA) has been working on some modelling that could identify a pattern of abuse, and help the bank investigate what’s going on and take action.

“Financial abuse occurs when money is used to gain control over a partner and is one of the most powerful ways to keep someone trapped in an abusive relationship,” said Angela MacMillan, Customer Advocate for the CBA Group.

“Sadly we see that perpetrators use all kinds of ways to circumvent existing measures such as using the messaging field to send offensive or threatening messages when making a digital transaction,” she said.

“We developed this technology because we noticed that some customers were using transaction descriptions as a way to harass or threaten others.”

CBA’s tech essentially is an artificial intelligence model that can be used by financial institutions to work out what’s going on, creating a safer banking experience for not just customers of the bank where it is detecting around 1500 high-risk cases annually since it was implemented in 2021.

And it’s a model the Commonwealth Bank is going to share with the world, allowing potentially any other bank to also help their customers by finding those at risk.

This week, CommBank made its AI model available on programming source GitHub, where any institution could essentially grab the code and make use of it on their own platform.

“By sharing our source code and model with any bank in the world, it will help financial institutions have better visibility of technology-facilitated abuse,” said MacMillan. “This can help to inform action the bank may choose to take to help protect customers.”

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