Fintech for everyone

Fintech for everyone
Fintech for everyone

You could imagine that technology should and could offer solutions for the disabled. Well, of course, that can only happen if disabled people are involved in designing the process from the beginning. I wonder if their lack of involvement is the reason for the failure of many Fintech solutions? Since its launch and playing a role in the mainstream, financial technology has been met with criticism. These complaints have been due to inaccessibility and discrimination.

According to an article by Contractor, there are 1.7 billion unbanked people worldwide, and households with disabilities are more likely to be unbanked than those without disabilities. Breaking this down means they have no expenditure items, resulting in reduced access to financial aid and loans. For some it is easier to access or visit a bank, but this can be a difficult task for disabled people, which is why Fintech is such an important tool for many.

Fintech must essentially be able to offer convenience and give the chance to adapt financial services with the use of aids to people with disabilities. It should help and not hinder by overcoming obstacles to inclusion. With that in mind, Fintech companies have a responsibility to bridge the gap and provide easy access to financial services. But it must be functional and affordable for individuals and businesses.

To give some context of the biggest challenges we see with Fintech, it’s simply not available to everyone. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a fundamental problem when it comes to the use of some Fintech solutions. AI is often thought to be more objective than humans. In reality, AI algorithms make decisions based on human-annotated data, which can be biased and exclusionary depending on the dataset that has been used to set up the model. A piece of research recently done by PMLR on intersectional accuracy for machine learning highlights how important it is when using technology that we don’t limit the data set and the importance of getting a learning data set in place, which allows the technology to evolve. The technology adapts to the way it is used and develops new ways from its learning. This leads to preventing clichés and isolating someone from using the technology. It is so easy to pick a product off the shelf that has already been made, as it reduces time and effort. However, it can deny access to that many.

There are accessibility guidelines for websites and digital solutions mainly within developed countries such as Australia, Canada, the USA and the UK. The guidelines state that financial services firms can open themselves up to a lawsuit if a fintech product is not available – simple, structured and easy to navigate. But how do we make this law instead of guidelines?

Interestingly, Forbes contributor Anuj Nayar last year discussed some of the top predictions for Fintech in 2022. A key factor in some of this is the need for more scrutiny, and regulation is a must.

Arup Kumar Chatterjee, a financial specialist and Asian development blogger, discussed the global divide in a recent post. He states, “there is a huge disability gap in mobile phone ownership – where people with disabilities are less likely to own a mobile phone than non-disabled people. Places like Bangladesh have the biggest gap, with 55% of disabled people not owning a mobile phone, and Pakistan has the smallest, at 11%. With the smartphone ownership gap exceeding the total mobile phone ownership gap, they are the most likely to experience a digital divide.” Everyone is on a different journey and has different obstacles to overcome to be on the same playing field, but not everyone has access.

Of course, there will always be irregularities and elements that need to be ironed out. I think we are over the idea of ​​all talk, we need more action. These mistakes and missteps are inadvertently creating barriers to digital product accessibility, so let’s stop it. Fintech players must commit to overcoming these barriers and simply use changes to make it inclusive from the start. Some are, but not all businesses, why?

Across the globe, we can see progress with fintech companies over in the US such as Purple, a mobile banking app for people with disabilities. It combines a tax-advantaged bank account with a debit card that connects to a financial platform using cutting-edge algorithms. As a result, customers can not only make contactless, simple and secure payments with a smartphone, but also manage their wealth and retirement accounts.

Mastercard introduced the accessible card for the blind and partially sighted, this card has unique notches on the touch card card side, it allows the individual to decide if it is their credit, debit or prepaid card. This is a continued commitment that they have made for inclusion.

Another is WeBank, an enabler that best describes them as it has accessibility features on its app to ensure visually impaired citizens of the People’s Republic of China have easy access to banking services. The WeBank app integrates biometric authentication, facial anti-spoofing, artificial intelligence-powered speech synthesis and real-time image processing. In addition, the app’s open source development framework allows WeBank to share its experience with the industry to help improve accessibility. Again, by keeping this collaboration open with other organizations, we can learn from each other.

Fintech has an advantage over the traditional banking industry, especially when looking at direct access to users, especially the economically disadvantaged. We must ensure the involvement of disabled people in the design process when we tackle financial inclusion. With the support of governments and insistence on regulation, we could speed it up and not leave so many behind.

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