Thursday, 26 April 2012

Security, Reliability, Accessibility -
RNIB Accessible Banking Guide Launch

Earlier this week, I was lucky enough to attend the launch of Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB)’s Accessible Banking Guide, which CashFlows sponsored. The year since we started working with RNIB has introduced me to the concept of accessibility and drawn to attention how sidelined blind and partially sighted people can be when it comes to ever-expanding innovations in e-commerce and mobile, particularly in shopping and making payments. 
In what was a thought-provoking event, I thought the most interesting insight of the evening came from Lesley-Anne Alexander, CEO of the RNIB.  She pointed out that the priorities for blind and partially sighted people are wanting to the ability to manage their money confidently, confidentially and with ease – all of which apply equally to the population as a whole!
So what does accessibility really mean and how does it fit in with what we do? Entering card details into an online payment page can be extremely difficult for a typical RNIB user. This is where VoicePay comes in. By associating a card with your unique ‘voice signature’, a user is able to sign for transactions just by speaking into their phone, removing many of the issues a blind or partially sighted people face and providing a more convenient solution to everyone shopping online.
The challenge with any biometric technology is in moving from a place where it is more akin to ‘Mission Impossible’ (the only reference for most people when I talk about voice biometrics!)  to a technology that is well-known and, more importantly, trusted . The core reason why I see such opportunities for voice biometrics is that it is almost unique in combining security for a business and usability for an end consumer.    
In developing accessible banking and payment solutions, some small adjustments are needed – examples on display last night included talking ATMs, easier to view online banking portals and our own voice authentication technology. We are not talking about fully alternative solutions, indeed the feedback we received on VoicePay from an RNIB user group will benefit every one of the growing number of users signing up for the service!
In the words of Rosemary Thorndycraft, an RNIB Ambassador, making small adjustments “makes you feel the same as everyone else”, which is incredibly important when coming to terms with losing your sight. If VoicePay can play a small part in helping the RNIB reach their accessibility goals, I would be exceptionally proud.

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