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FinTech For All: How This Startup is Making Online Financial Services More Accessible

FinTech and financial inclusion are two of the hottest buzzwords in global socioeconomics. Financial technology is viewed as the solution to accelerate financial inclusion, especially in developing countries.

Traditional banking services are mostly inaccessible to the so-called unbanked or underbanked. These users may lack access to conventional financial service providers due to certain circumstances, such as poor credit standing, lack of adequate identification, or simply physical proximity to such solutions. Many are unable to comply with the requirements to open bank accounts or use remittance services.

FinTech services are designed to eliminate the limitations that make traditional banks and financial institutions inaccessible. They offer convenient solutions for financial services, such as sending and receiving money or even acquiring credit-typically through the internet. With minimal requirements for using these services, they make the goal of broader financial inclusion more achievable.

However, FinTech’s financial inclusiveness can still become even more inclusive. How? By being accessible to people with disabilities.

Enabling web accessibility

Even though there are nearly one billion people with disabilities worldwide, many may still be left out in the current push for financial inclusion. FinTech services may already be reaching people in areas not covered by traditional financial services, but visually impaired, hard-of-hearing, and other persons with disabilities may not be able to access these services.

Many websites and web applications do not comply with web accessibility standards. This means that they are not compatible with assistive technologies such as screen readers and voice-based controls. Some may be problematic for people who suffer from photosensitive seizures. The flashing or flickering animations and high-contrast colors of sites or apps may induce seizures.

Making pages accessible is not cheap, especially for larger sites with thousands of pages and a wide variety of content. It can cost anywhere between $3,000 to $50,000 depending on the number of pages and the complexity of their content.

Furthermore, ensuring web accessibility is not a one-off task. Websites are always displaying new content and pages, and these need to be made accessible as well.

Fortunately, there are solutions that can enable web accessibility without the costly overhaul, adjustments, and replacements. One such solution is offered by the Israeli startup accessiBe. The company provides an automated web accessibility solution that complies with the standards specified in Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

accessiBe is already used by more than 125,000 websites including those of the Los Angeles Lakers, Yokohama, Shimano, Florida Bar, Proactiv, Benadryl, Oreo, Abbott, Quicksilver, Energizer, Lonely Planet, Tupperware, and the Louisiana Department of Health.

Quick and easy web accessibility

With accessiBe, your website is fully accessible and ADA and WCAG compliant within 48 hours. Every 24 hours, their AI technology scans for new and revised content to fix, as websites are continuously being updated with fresh content that needs to be made accessible.

accessiBe Accessibility Adjustments interface

The accessiBe Accessibility Adjustments interface provides a range of options to make the website look and behave the way a user wants it. For convenience, the adjustments interface defaults to the profile options window. This shows different profiles that users can activate depending on their needs. Those who have difficulties seeing (but are not blind), for example, can turn on the Vision Impaired Profile to increase font sizes and boost colors. Blind users, on the other hand, can activate the Blind Users Profile to use a website with a screen reader.

With this solution, there is no need to meticulously go over each page of a site to make individual accessibility adjustments. Regardless of the number of pages, accessiBe automated solution quickly enables accessibility across web pages. These changes are not limited to font and color scheme modifications; accessiBe also employs AI to scan different page elements and generate metatags that will be used for assistive technologies.

Greater financial inclusion through web accessibility

Many FinTech companies have websites which prevent people with disabilities from using their products and services. Most sites are rated “Semi-Compliant,” which may sound like it is better than being completely “Non-Compliant” but it largely is not.

A semi-compliant site presents hurdles that discourage people with disabilities from using FinTech services further. Issues with the clickables and titles, for example, already make a site barely passable for use with screen readers or assistive technologies.

Also, seizure-inducing animations and color/contrast schemes of websites are likely to exclude people with photosensitive epilepsy. According to the Epilepsy Foundation, around 3 percent of people who have epilepsy suffer from seizures when exposed to flashing lights or certain visual patterns.

This number may sound small but consider this: around 700 individuals in Japan suffered seizures because of a Pokemon TV show episode. The infamous episode, which showed flashing images, was eventually banned because of the incident.

The aCe web accessibility audit tool is an online tool from accessiBe designed to evaluate the web accessibility of sites and web applications. It provides insights on various aspects of becoming web-accessible including the clickable elements, titles, orientation, menus, graphics, forms, documents, readability, and tables. The tool provides accessibility scores as well as snapshots of the website codes that need improvement.

Financial inclusiveness is not exactly inclusive if it ignores people with disabilities. It is not just a matter of being fair to all consumers. It also makes excellent business sense for FinTech companies to make their sites accessible to potential consumers who have difficulties with their sight, hearing, and motor skills.

A Click-Away Pound survey reveals that 71 percent of customers with disabilities are likely to click away from a site if they encounter difficulties in using it. Also, the survey found that 82 percent of customers with access difficulties would have spent more on a site if only it were more accessible. The study estimates that businesses lose around $14.4 billion every year because of the lack of web accessibility—and this number is for the UK market alone.

Aside from the foregone revenues, refusing to embrace web accessibility also exposes businesses to lawsuits. One estimate puts the cost of facing an accessibility charge in the range of $15,000 to $25,000. This is just for defending against a single web accessibility case. Companies that operate in various locations can face multiple suits. If they end up getting an unfavorable verdict in court, the penalties can be hefty. Some big businesses have reportedly settled their accessibility cases out of court and shelled out millions in the process.

In conclusion

The United Nations consider people with disabilities as the largest minority group in the world. There are active efforts to make sure that they are not being excluded wittingly or unwittingly when it comes to accessing government and private sector services. To this end, accessiBe is doing an excellent job helping everyone gain equitable access to online services.

Automated web accessibility through an AI-powered solution like accessiBe doesn’t just help FinTech companies become truly inclusive in providing financial services. It also unlocks significant revenue potentials and helps companies avoid costly and cumbersome lawsuits invoking web accessibility guidelines.

All image source: Pixabay

This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editors or the management of EconoTimes

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