In Pakistan, there are over 22 million card holders, more than 6,700 ATMs and over 10,000 branches but sadly, banking services to the Visually Impaired (VIP) customer has been a neglected area; there is hardly any branch or ATM which has some special facility for the VIP customers. On the other hand, countries like USA, Australia and Canada have taken considerable steps to provide convenience to these people. In USA alone, there are more than 100,000 ATMs to facilitate the Visually Impaired people.
The State Bank of Pakistan, in an announcement dated 13th February 2014 [CPD Circular No 2 of 2014 Accessible Banking Infrastructure For Special Persons] clearly stated that banks and other financial institutions must take sufficient steps to facilitate disabled people such as making ramps at branch premises and making the ATMs usable to visually disabled people.
TPS has developed a special solution, VIP CASH, to facilitate banking institutions. This has been developed keeping in mind the visually impaired people which will enable them to make transactions at the ATM like normal people. To use the service, the VIP customer needs to insert an audio jack into the ATM which will trigger the specialized flow. The ATM will voice over each and every activity of the user into the headphone. To keep the system simple for the VIP customer, cash withdrawal and balance inquiry are the features being offered. This solution has been implemented in Standard Chartered Bank Pakistan and is running smoothly. More banks will soon be added to this list.
“Millions of people are underserved by financial institutions for various reasons such as limitations in geographic reach, illiteracy, infrastructure limitations, security problems etc. Physical disability is another restriction which can be solved through intelligent use of technology. Our talking ATMs are one of the many ways in which we have made access to financial institutions easier for the visually impaired. As a corporate it is upon us to provide solutions that bring relief to the masses.” – Naseer Hasan, Country Head, Retail Clients, Standard Chartered Bank, Pakistan.
The solution offers many benefits. The banks will be able to offer accessibility for all; it serves as a milestone to social participation and economic opportunity for Pakistanis with disabilities. It will also set an example for other financial institutions and businesses to follow, increase their active banking customer base and bank gain confidence of the community.