In 2016, we established the Digital Financial Services Research Group at University of Washington to investigate the technological challenges in improving access to financial services for the world’s poor and to promote a global research community at the intersection of Computing for Development and Financial Services. The research approach was to focus on specific barriers identified by the financial services community and to develop and pilot solutions. In this talk, I will present one specific project: An assessment of SMS fraud in Pakistan. There is the concern that widespread scams initiated by SMS have a negative impact on the low income population that are the target of financial inclusion initiatives. To investigate this we collected fraudulent SMS messages in Pakistan through various means and conducted a range of consumer and stakeholder interviews. Based on our analysis, SMS fraud is dominated by lottery type schemes, which have the greatest impact on vulnerable, low-income rural populations. To detect SMS fraud, we offer a simple heuristic for fraud detection that has a high accuracy rate and is adaptable to evolving fraud schemes. We develop a recommendation of a fraud mitigation strategy based on targeting fraudster call back numbers.
Richard is a Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, where he has been on the faculty since 1986, with brief leaves to Indian Institute of Science, Microsoft Research, and PATH. His research has focused on computing for the developing world since 2005, when he became involved with the Digital Study Hall project. In 2009, Richard spent a sabbatical year working with the Digital Health Solutions group at PATH, a global health NGO based in Seattle. This opportunity allowed him to increase his efforts on applying computing technologies to challenges in global health. While working with PATH, he co-founded the Projecting Health project, which uses the Community-Led Video Education model to promote healthy practices in rural areas in India. Back at University of Washington, he is now overseeing the efforts of the Open Data Kit project. His research interests in ICTD include technologies for behavior change communication, improving tools to support the use of data in strengthening health systems, and digital financial services.
How to watch: If you can't make the event in person you can Live Stream or watch the Recording (one week after event).