Making banking services increasingly accessible
For several decades, banks have worked to ensure that physical access to their branches has been enhanced to support accessibility, through ramps and handrails, power-assisted doors and elevators, hearing induction loops, talking ATMs, and more.
But with the growth of digital, the challenge of creating services that can be used by everyone through web channels, mobile apps, payment cards, and digital wallets is a formidable one. And it’s a challenge that is becoming more urgent. With an aging population in many countries, the number of people with disabilities – and vision impairment in particular – is increasing dramatically. Indeed, some predictions point to a 55% rise globally in the number of people living with vision loss over the next 30 years.5
According to Thomas Foley, Executive Director of the National Disability Institute, “When it comes to inclusion of people with disabilities, the first and most important step is one of intentionality. For a long time, people with disabilities may not have been seen as [a suitably important] part of the customer base for banks and other financial institutions.” Fortunately, he adds, “this is beginning to change.”
And that is reflected in accelerated action by banks, both on a digital and on a physical front.
Many are already addressing the payment card issuance journey for people with disabilities to make it a lot easier – especially for those with sight impairment:
- Identification bumps on payment cards help signal to a user the difference between their cards, such as when they are holding a credit versus a debit card
- The addition of an accessibility notch – a crescent-shaped cut-out at one end of a card – can help customers to orient a card for insertion into an ATM or card reader
- Biometric cards, an advanced option offered by some banks, include a fingerprint reader, so users don’t have to remember or enter a PIN at checkout
- Braille-embossed cards, larger fonts, and high-contrast text can also make cards easier for visually impaired users to read, particularly when making payments online or via telephone
Solutions have also been extended, in many instances, to the physical delivery of those cards: by scanning a large QR code on the letter that accompanies a card, users can hear (rather than read) instructions on how to activate their card, obtain a PIN, and find out about the rewards and benefits associated with the card, also in their preferred language.