Full digital banking by 2020

The topic of full digital banking continues to be a hotly debated topic in Canada but this subject not only affects Canadians, it affects all customers doing business with banks around the Globe.

On the one hand, we have banks that strongly submit that digital banking is the way to go and that in the medium to long run it is going to benefit all customers; even if they are blind and vision impaired.  However, on the other hand we have blind and vision impaired customers who strongly argue that they are being left out.

No matter who is right; only time will tell but we need to keep in mind that to no one’s surprise, technology continues to set the pace and tone of the landscape.


True rumours

In late 2017, it was rumoured that Canadian banks had set a deadline for going entirely digital and this was somewhat confirmed shortly after these rumours started circulating.  At first, Canadian banks were hesitant to confirm this date but as time marches on we believe that this date may indeed be true.  However, as it goes; Banks often wear their caustious costume until they feel that it is the right time to disclose.

In a recent interview with one official of the Royal Bank of Canada, they offered up this quote:

“I see many benefits for customers who are blind and low vision. New technology like voice and AI are already opening the doors for independence and inclusion in a lot of ways. So, I think the

biggest advantage for customers who are blind and low vision is that new technology will continue to equalize the playing field, and accelerate their entry into mainstream banking.”


Present Canadian environment

Despite the push to full digital banking in Canada by 2020, it is hoped that banks would recognize that there are a few important pieces to this picture that need to be addressed and if these missing pieces are not addressed and dealt with in an efficient manner, then equal digital banking may be extremely difficult to accomplish.

Most banks are still working to make their websites usable and accessible to persons who are blind and vision impaired.  Forms are still a challenge for said groups of persons to complete independently and as a result blind and vision impaired persons have major concerns about their privacy.

There are many sighted persons who continue to complain that online banking is a challenge for them so what should we think it would be for blind and vision impaired persons?

In addition, banks are not providing adequate customer service to assist blind and vision impaired persons to learn and understand how to take advantage of digital banking.


Ramifications and benefits

There are arguably two sides to this; the ramifications and the benefits.

The ramifications could be that not only would blind and vision impaired persons be left behind; seniors and those who did not grow up in the technology era would also be affected.

Why would this be so for blind and vision impaired persons?  Let’s just say that access technology is not known for keeping up with technological evolution so why now would this be different?  In short, access technology is continually having to catch up with technological changes and the gap continues to widen.

The argument for benefits would be that blind and vision impaired persons would now be able to conduct their online banking more freely and independently without having to depend on sighted assistance and that their privacy would be guaranteed.


Peaking into the future

The future of digital banking as seen through the lenses of blind and vision impaired persons could be described as an upcoming nightmare that will become reality before they know it.  There does not seem to be any way to stop this nightmare except to make their voices heard but we are left to wonder what could be done in order to soften the blow?

Banks will argue that the consumer market made up of blind and vision impaired persons is not large enough to be a concern to them but blind and vision impaired persons could counter argue that it is their right to have their privacy and confidentiality protected no matter what.



If banks really want to ensure that the playing field is equal for all of their customers, they will need to address the following:

  • Ensure that their online banking facilities are usable and navigable.
  • Ensure that access technology is fully capable of interacting with their facilities.
  • Carry out meaningful testing to ensure the above; this means partnering with users who are blind and vision impaired.
  • Work with manufacturers of access technology to develop mobile apps, computer programs, and phone applications.

Just my two cents for today.

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