Digital Assitant For Financial Transactions

An IsiZulu Personal Finance Management Application

The Problem

The main problem we are addressing for this project is the exclusion of South African (SA) indigenous languages from digital resources, and particularly in the finance domain. This problem can be divided into three sub-problems:

Financial Illiteracy

It has been suggested that financial literacy impacts whether citizens partake in the formal financial economy [1]. It helps people understand how to manage their money [2,3] and the importance of banking [1]. 


South Africa has 11 official languages, yet only 2 are dominant in the financial industry. A study showed that many people require help in their home languages when they visit bank branches [4]. 

Lack of Digital Resources

A survey showed that there is a lack of digital resources for indigenous SA languages [5].

The Solution

A personal finance mobile application with an isiZulu digital assitant

We aim to address the problems above through development of a personal management mobile application that helps users manage their money and adapts a trust-inducing interface. The mobile application will incorporate a natural language generator, which when provided with a users transactions history will generate informative summaries about those transactions.

Team Contributions

Mobile Application and Content Selection

Design and development of the mobile application, and the content selection component of Natural Language Generator (NLG) for the digital assistant

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NLG and Verbalization of Numbers

Development of algorithms for verbalising numbers in all contexts, and the development of NLG pipeline stages, sentence planning and linguistic realisation

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Project Resources

Resources produced by the project team.

The Team

Amy Solomons

Team Leader and Researcher for Mobile Application and Content Selection for NLG

Junior Moraba

Researcher for Sentence Planner, Sentence Realizer and Verbalization of Numbers 

A/Prof Maria Keet

Team Supervisor

Mr Zola Mahlaza

Team Supervisor


[1] John P Wentzel, Krishna Sundar Diatha and Venkata Seshachal Sarma Yadavalli. 2016. An investigation into factors impacting financial exclusion at the bottom of the pyramid in South Africa. Development Southern Africa 33, 2 (Feb. 2016), 203-214, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0376835X.2015.1120648

[​​​2] Jason Fernando. 2021. Financial Literacy. (April 2021). Retrieved September 6, 2021, from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/f/financial-literacy.asp

[3] Will Kenton. 2021. Personal Finance. (March 2021). Retrieved September 10, 2021, from https://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/personalfinance.asp

[4]Brigitte Van Schouwenburg. 2009. Taalbeleid aan finansiële instellings. Master’s thesis. University of Johannesburg (UJ), Johannesburg, South africa

[5] Aditi Sharma Grover, Gerhard B Van Huyssteen, and Marthinus W Pretorius. 2011. The South African human language technology audit. Language resources and evaluation 45, 3 (2011), 271–288.