Banking Industry Report Sets Roadmap Towards Inclusive Financial Services For Persons With Disabilities
Nairobi 2nd December 2020 - The Kenya banking sector has today reaffirmed its commitment to enhance service delivery for Persons living With Disabilities (PWDs) as part of its long-term strategic objective to entrench financial services across the country. This follows the official release of the Persons With Disabilities (PWD) Pilot Project Report by the Central Bank of Kenya Governor, Dr. Patrick Njoroge, today during a virtual event that brought together banking industry players and partners.
The report, based by a study coordinated by Kenya Bankers Association in partnership with the Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSD Kenya) and non-profit inABLE, seeks to promote financial deepening in the country especially for PWDs. A product of a four-month long project conducted by seven banks in Kenya, the report highlights the challenges experienced by PWDs in accessing financial services and provides recommendations on strategies of enhancing service delivery to PWDs. The banks that participated in the pilot study were: Absa Bank, Co-Operative Bank , Equity Bank, Family Bank, KCB, Bank Rafiki Microfinance Bank, and Standard Chartered Bank.
Speaking during the launch ceremony, KBA Governing Council Chairman Mr. Joshua Oigara said the report offers the sector a roadmap to ensure that it fully caters for the needs of PWDs. "At the core of this whole conversation is to ensure that persons with disabilities are able to live up to their potential. Just like anyone else, when there are no barriers in their way, persons with disabilities are employees, entrepreneurs, consumers, and taxpayers, along with everybody else. It is important that we remove the barriers that prevent them from accessing financial services," he said.
On his part, KBA Chief Executive Officer Dr. Habil Olaka said the sector's commitment is anchored on its shared approach to uphold the principles of equality and inclusion towards all persons in the society including persons with disabilities. "The project assessed the overall experience for banking clients with hearing (deaf and hard of hearing), visual (blind and low vision) and physical disabilities. The assessment covered four main areas which included whether Clients with Disabilities can access banking services independently, whether banks understand the needs of Clients with Disabilities and finally we sought to understand whether banks actually respect Clients with Disabilities," he said.
FSD Kenya CEO Ms. Tamara Cook highlighted the need for banks to put in place mechanisms that ensure that persons with disabilities are included in Kenya's digital evolution and revolution. Banks and other financial service providers should put the needs of persons with disabilities at the fore when designing products and services, especially digital services, as stipulated in the report's recommendations by end of First Quarter 2021.
"Looking at the findings of this report, it will be encouraging for banks to develop an accessibility roadmap to ensure all customers have access to banking halls and digital services. With the commitment that the sector has expressed, I am hopeful that we will soon see efforts to accommodate the needs of PWDs," she said.
InABLE Executive Director Ms. Irene Mbari-Kirika rallied banks to set policies in place that will transition their banking services and technologies to suit the requirements of PWDs. The report calls for banks to outline how they will improve their websites, mobile applications, and written electronic banking documents to be accessible in line with internationally recognised best practice accessibility standards," she noted.
The digital accessibility assessment also recommends that banks should immediately issue ATM cards to all customers with disabilities, and make ATMs accessible to all customers, including those with visual and mobility impairments. Further, it calls for the training of banking staff on basic sign language.
The report was unveiled a day prior to the commemoration of this year's International Day of Persons with Disabilities whose theme is: "Building Back Better: Towards An Inclusive, Accessible And Sustainable Post COVID-19 World By, For And With Persons With Disabilities." Part of the report's recommendations include that banks start observing this day and promote financial services accessibility for PWDs during the month of December.
About the Kenya Bankers Association:
KBA (www.kba.co.ke) was founded on 16th July 1962. Today, KBA is the financial sector's leading advocacy group and banking industry umbrella body that represents total assets in excess of USD 40 billion. KBA has evolved and broadened its function to include advocacy on behalf of the banking industry, and championing financial sector development through strategic projects such as the launch of the industry's first P2P digital payments platform PesaLink. In line with the Government's policy on public-private partnerships, KBA and Central Bank of Kenya have implemented key projects such as modernization of the National Payments System through the Automated Clearing House, implementing the Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS), and the Kenya Credit Information Sharing Initiative. The KBA members are comprised of commercial banks and deposit taking microfinance banks.
About FSD Kenya
The Financial Sector Deepening Kenya (FSD Kenya) is an independent trust dedicated to the achievement of an inclusive financial system that supports Kenya's long-term development goals. We work closely with government, the financial services industry and other partners to develop financial solutions that better address real world challenges faced by low-income households, enterprises and underserved groups such as women and youth.
inABLE.org is a nonprofit organization based in Nairobi, Kenya and Washington, DC with a mission to empower persons with disabilities (PWDs) through computer technology. Over the last 10 years, inABLE has set up eight computer assistive technology labs at special schools for the blind and visually impaired across Kenya and enrolled more than 8,000 students. Additionally, to ensure everyone has access to information on the Internet, inABLE collaborates with partners on training, evaluation, research, advocacy, and policy projects related to digital accessibility. InABLE has also launched the Inclusive Design Africa monthly webinar series and is organizing the first-ever Inclusive Africa Conference.
Director, Communications and Public Affairs