Making payments accessible
“Accessibility in payments means ensuring that everyone, regardless of physical or cognitive abilities, socioeconomic background, or geographic location, can use financial services with ease and confidence,” says Kurt Schmid, Managing Director Digital Banking, Netcetera.
To cater to the varied needs of every customer, it’s important to recognize the diversity of the entire population – not just those with impairments. After all, the needs of an 18-year-old can be different from those of an octogenarian, just as the payment challenges faced by a customer with a visual impairment differ from those of a customer who uses a wheelchair.
However, simply grouping customers according to these labels is insufficient, because within these groups, customer needs will also vary. Instead, to achieve true accessibility, banks should ideally segment their customer groups according to the different stages of the payment journey – and design a range of products that address the different challenges customers may face at each stage. Thus, it has become critical for banks to ensure that their services and products are accessible for all, regardless of whether a person is disabled or not. To their credit, many banks have already made significant progress on this front.
Physical measures such as ramps, power-assisted doors, and elevators are some of the long-established ways in which bank branches improve accessibility for customers with physical impairments. Meanwhile, there are a number of Convego® card solutions with features such as embossed bumps, Braille, and embedded biometric security – a perfect example of how banks can achieve the notion of accessibility for all, while being especially helpful to individuals with visual or physical impairments.
But what about digital accessibility? Technology has transformed the way we bank and make payments, with innovative tools such as online banking and multifunctional digital wallets becoming an integral part of the banking experience. This shift has been further driven by the rise of neobanks and fintech companies, which have challenged traditional banking models and redefined the role of a bank in the modern world.
As with physical payments, it’s important for banks to ensure that digital products and solutions are as accessible as possible. There are a few things banks can consider to achieve this:
- Diverse needs: Every user has their own needs and challenges when it comes to making payments. There’s no “one-size-fits-all” approach, so banks should ensure their portfolio of products meet their customers’ diverse demands.
- Mindset shift: Accessibility shouldn’t be treated as a box ticking or compliance matter. It should be at the forefront of design thinking and guide every decision.
- Co-creation: When designing products and solutions, banks should adopt a “nothing about us, without us” ethos to ensure those who face barriers in the payment journey are involved in the process of removing these barriers.
As digital wallet adoption increases, it’s also important to ensure that the authentication process is easily accessible for all customers – without compromising on security. Until now, authentication measures, such as one-time passwords and third-party apps, have been cumbersome to use and have proven vulnerable to fraudulent attacks. However, new solutions such as the Convego AUTH-U – a passwordless biometric authentication based on the industry-wide FIDO standard – are a good example of how the industry is removing friction to enable an easy and secure digital payment experience.
The key is to incorporate accessibility from the start of the design process – a simple, but often neglected, design principle.