People with disabilities provide a large and valuable market that is currently underserved by the banking industry. According to Comprehensive Community Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania (CCBRT), 4.2 million Tanzanians are living with a disability and with an ageing population that number is set to increase. Because of the illiteracy rate of 48% and limited financial knowledge among Tanzanians with a disability, the relationship between them and the banks is an unstable one. Hence the financial needs of people with disabilities are not fully served by the banking system which is an opportunity for banks to create and offer banking products that meet the needs of this huge segment of the population.
Creating sustainable and long-term relationships with this largely untapped market is an opportunity the banks can no longer afford to ignore. Just like others, people with disabilities need access to the services provided by the banks to better their lives but sadly most banks are not very effective when dealing with them. To support disabled people is not just the right thing to do but also can be beneficial for banks as well; so, for this reason, in this article, I will talk about how the banks could improve their services and introduce new products to accommodate them:
- Talking Automated Teller Machine (ATM) — A talking ATM is a type that provides audible instructions. Banks should invest in talking ATMs whereby what appears on the screen is read aloud. The talking ATMs will help people with sight impairment conduct banking transactions easily. In addition, the banks could provide free earphones to be used in those talkative ATMs so they can conduct their transactions privately. Currently, no bank in Tanzania has the talking ATMs that could so the bank that would invest in them will differentiate themselves from the competitors.
- Text Relay Services — Text relay service is a service by which the customer can call the banks using the text relay and the bank’s customer service agent will help to communicate the request of the customer( received in written form) to the bank in oral form. This service is a crucial service for deaf people who feel discriminated against and left out by the banks because of a lack of targeted products and poorly trained bank staff to help them when they need help. Additionally, banks can have an efficient note writer at the counter to facilitate communication for customers who can’t communicate orally. Furthermore, banks can hire sign language specialists to be present all time to help communicate the deaf customer’s needs effectively.
- Digital accessibility — Digital services should be accessible to all customers but sadly visually disabled customers encounter problems accessing the services. The banks could install computer voice recognition software that can be used by people with visual impairments to conduct online transactions. Moreover, banks can change the formats by increasing the text size in their websites to make them easier to read.
In summary, with only 3.1% receiving income from paid employment, you can see why the banking industry has been ignoring disability people for ages but, with 13.2% of Tanzanian homes having at least one member with a disability according to CCBRT, it’s a group that the banks can’t ignore anymore. So, for the good sake of our society, the banks must act to ensure people with disabilities can access their services without hindrance. Disabled people require patience and excellent customer care so implementing the above recommendations I have mentioned earlier will not only promote the financial inclusions among the disabled people but will also provide a competitive edge to the banks that will provide those products and services.
Written by Kelvin Mkwawa, MBA
Email address: Kelvin.email@example.com
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