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Commonwealth Bank expands financial abuse technology access 

The major lender has made its abuse detection artificial intelligence model available to banks globally.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has announced its artificial intelligence (AI) technology, which is used to detect financial abuse, will be available for free to any bank worldwide.

The big four bank said the AI model helps identify digital payment transactions that include harassing, threatening or offensive messages.

Through AI and machine learning, the lender’s model can detect more “insidious forms of abuse in transactions”, which the bank can then manually review the instances and take action.

The bank said the AI model is fully operational and has been detecting more than 1,500 cases of potential financial abuse per year.

CBA Group customer advocate Angela MacMillan said: “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.

“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.

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

“By using this model we can scan unusual transactional activity and identify patterns and instances deemed to be high-risk that the bank can investigate and take action.”

The lender said the AI model complements its automatic block filter, which was introduced across its digital banking channels in 2020 to stop transaction descriptions that include threatening, harassing or abusive language.

Ms MacMillan stated that sharing the bank’s AI source code and model with banks worldwide will help financial institutions “have better visibility of technology-facilitated abuse”, which can inform the course of action taken by the bank to protect their customers.

The distribution of its AI technology followed the major bank in August launching a pilot program with the NSW Police Force.

In the trial, if CBA’s AI detects a NSW customer receiving repeated abuse in transaction descriptions, the CommBank Next Chapter team will contact the customer and ask if they would like CBA to report the abuse on their behalf to NSW Police.

At the launch of the pilot, Ms MacMillan commented: “Technology-facilitated abuse continues to be a serious problem, and this collaboration with NSW Police enables us to act – not only in supporting victims, but in the prevention of abuse.

“This is a first-of-its-kind initiative between the banking industry and law enforcement, and we hope this paves the way for more effective collaboration in the fight against domestic and financial abuse.”

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).

In an emergency or if you are not feeling safe, always call 000.

[Related: CBA to refer financial abuse to NSW Police]

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