By Mourice Seretta
The Kenya Bankers Association has partnered with the Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSD Kenya), non-profit inABLE and Georgia Institute of Technology in a programme to promote access to financial services for Persons With Disabilities (PWDs).
The initiative, whose pilot phase kicked off this month, aims to identify major accessibility challenges PWDs face while using banking service channels.
The programme seeks to assess PWDs’ access challenges using the sample of seven banks. The project will be jointly funded by the banking industry and FSD Kenya. Under the partnership, inABLE will provide technical support in reviewing the accessibility of banks’ service channels, providing recommendations on how the platforms can be customised to align with the accessibility needs of PWDs in line with global best practices and standards.
“I am happy to note that this programme is in tandem with the aspirations of the banking industry’s 2019-2023 Strategic Plan, particularly on the area of financial inclusion. Persons With Disabilities are an integral part of the banking public and we are delighted to work with our partners to promote inclusive banking through customised technological innovation and sector-wide efficiency programs,” said KBA Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Habil Olaka.
Absa Kenya, Standard Chartered Bank, Rafiki Microfinance Bank, Family Bank, Cooperative Bank, Equity Bank and KCB Bank have volunteered to take part in the pilot stage scheduled to run for at least eight weeks. The next phase will consist in reviewing the recommendations for application across the banking sector.
FSD Kenya Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Tamara Cook, noted that the project bodes well with the institution’s efforts towards harnessing financial solutions and making financial markets work better.
“FSD Kenya believes in this initiative because Persons with Disabilities are a key group that is underserved by the range of products available in the financial market. While it is important to increase access, financial inclusion is not an end to itself. We seek to identify how finance can be a true enabler that helps them solve real world problems,” said Ms. Cook.
Meanwhile, inABLE’s Founder and Executive Director, Ms. Irene Mbari-Kirika, welcomed the partnership saying, “The initiative is about putting PWD’s at the centre of design, identifying digital accessibility barriers in the banking industry in Kenya, and providing all customers independent use and unlimited access to financial-service.”
Georgia Institute of Technology School Psychology and Interactive Computing Professor Bruce Walker congratulated KBA, FSD Kenya and inABLE for partnering on the initiative, welcoming the opportunity to be part of the initiative.
“This assessment will provide the data necessary to make evidence-based improvements throughout the industry. It will help make Kenyan banks more accessible, and ultimately more effective, for all clients, beyond those with disabilities,’’ he added.
The accessibility areas of focus include websites, mobile applications, online banking channels, bank statements, ATMs, social media, as well as employment software applications.