ADB expert pushes full PWD access to fintech

Persons with disability (PWDs) need greater access to financial technology or fintech  to bring down their regular expenses and gain greater control over their finances, according to an expert from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

In an Asian Development Blog, ADB Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department Principal Financial Sector Specialist Arup Kumar Chatterjee said there is a wide gap when it comes to the access of PWDs to fintech.

Chatterjee said visual and auditory disabilities, among others, are not only limited to blindness and hearing loss. With this, he said people suffering these “invisible” disabilities are not as vocal about their difficulties.

“One in six people live with a disability in our world today. These individuals suffer a range of auditory, cognitive, physical, speech, and visual disorders that can hinder access to financial services,” Chatterjee said.

“The invisibility of most disabilities makes addressing financial inclusion for these people challenging since many choose not to be open about their difficulties,” he added.

Visual disabilities, Chatterjee said, are not only due to mild to severe vision loss in one or both eyes. People who suffer from color blindness could also lead them to have lower or complete lack of sensitivity to specific colors.

The ADB expert said auditory disabilities include partial hearing loss or hearing impairment in one or both ears, which will also affect their access to financial services.

He added that other disabilities such as cognitive, learning and neurological disabilities could range from mild reading-related disabilities to severe impairments.

Physical disabilities, Chatterjee said, can include paralysis, arthritis, poor coordination, tremors, and missing limbs, which could also prevent them from accessing financial services.

Chatterjee said fintech innovations have the potential to expand access to finance for many of these people, especially those living in Asia.

In countries like Australia, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, financial service firms could open themselves to lawsuits if their products are not accessible to PWDs.

“Financial institutions and fintech companies need to ensure that disabled customers can access the same financial services that non-disabled people can. They, therefore, need to have a sound understanding of the unique needs of people with disabilities and barriers to technology accessibility,” said Chatterjee.

The ADB expert said a financial product’s features must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust. The information and user interface components must also be made available to users.

All content, he said, must be presented in multiple ways and easy for users to see and hear. These include large print, symbols or other simple languages, speech, and braille.

The user interface components, including navigation, must be operable and do not require human intervention when the user cannot perform a task. Users must also have adequate time to navigate any content using inputs from different devices easily.

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