Fostering Inclusivity: Three Keys to Crafting an Accessible Digital Banking Experience for All

wavy-line-blog

Denny Howell, Co-Founder and COO, Mahalo Banking

Banking technological advancements have brought about a significant surge in efficiency, revolutionizing account management and the digital banking experience for both credit unions and their members. However, amidst this wave of innovation, it is evident that not all digital solutions are implemented with inclusivity in mind, introducing a greater risk of marginalizing customer segments.

Incorporating accessibility measures ensures that members of all backgrounds can easily manage their finances and enjoy a pleasant digital banking experience. Credit unions that embrace solutions catering to all consumers, including traditionally underserved groups, expand their community reach, create more meaningful member interactions and unlock avenues for growth. Incorporating inclusive functionality not only helps attract new members; it also plays a pivotal role in enhancing member loyalty.

To foster this inclusivity, credit unions must take a deliberate approach in evaluating their digital banking partnerships, ensuring that the technology is crafted to recognize and accommodate the diverse spectrum of member experiences. Several key considerations come into play, including member-centric design principles, customizable options, robust accessibility features, multilingual support and more.

1. Member-Centric Platform Design

In 2023, 63% of consumers opted for mobile banking as their primary means of account access. This growing banking preference underscores the imperative for credit unions to deliver a robust digital experience that aligns with member needs. Adopting a member-centric approach is essential to this endeavor, as member preferences and expectations take precedence within the digital banking platform’s design.

A member-centric platform must cater to varying levels of tech-savviness. While some members may be technologically proficient, others may require more straightforward interfaces. Delivering a platform that accommodates all skill levels guarantees that no member is left behind or neglected. Usability considerations include clear navigation menus, visually appealing layouts, readable fonts, and logical information hierarchy. This allows members to easily access their financial information and complete account management activities without difficulty.

Strong member- centric design makes the platform more accessible, intuitive, efficient, and personalized for all members. Along with strong aesthetics, members should be able to customize their experience by adjusting settings for platform appearance (i.e., font size, color schemes or layout) as well as defining their financial priorities to receive tailored recommendations and relevant content based on their specific needs.

2. Accessibility Features

Members who are neurodivergent or experience cognitive distinctions struggle with technology and accessibility challenges. Failure to incorporate accommodating features often leads to inconsistent digital experiences for these members.

Approximately 15-20% of the global population is affected by at least one neurodivergent distinction – the most common conditions including autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, generalized anxiety disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. A significant segment also experiences other disabilities, such as colorblindness (affecting 300 million), visual impairments (impacting 2.2 billion) and epilepsy (experienced by 50 million). Thus, the absence of technical inclusivity features that accommodate these diverse conditions may pose issues for an institution’s customer base.

Each distinction affects individuals differently, altering how they engage with digital interfaces. For instance, colorblind users may struggle to see content on contrasting backgrounds and dyslexic individuals face difficulty deciphering platform fonts and platform animations. These examples show how credit union members may struggle with cognitive differences that could hinder their digital banking experiences. Credit unions can address these challenges by collaborating with fintech partners whose platform offers inclusive functionality to ensure seamless access and navigation for all members.

3. Multilingual Support

The need for multilingual support within credit unions is more important than ever before. Although the latest census data shows that nearly 80% of Americans speak only English, data also indicates that about one in five Americans communicates in a different first language at home. Even if these individuals understand English sufficiently, they may prefer to access services in their first language whenever possible.

To further illustrate the growing impact of these multilingual individuals, the U.S. Latino population reached 19% of the country's total population in 2021 and has been the largest contributor to the U.S. population increase, accounting for 54% of growth over the past decade. Latinos are also starting small businesses at a faster rate than any other group, outpacing their non-Hispanic counterparts by an incredible 44% compared to 4% over the past 10 years. Empowering this crucial banking segment requires credit unions to be poised to accommodate Latino communities by offering inclusive, accessible language services and financial management resources.

Credit unions that only offer services to native English speakers are not only limiting their growth but also missing opportunities to attract and engage potential new members. To effectively accommodate members whose native language is not English, credit unions must prioritize supporting bilingual positioning at every touchpoint.

Leveraging Technology to Meet All Users Where They Are

Offering an intuitive and comprehensive banking experience for each consumer is critical for credit unions to deliver inclusivity in today’s digital landscape. Taking this progressive approach ensures credit unions retain and expand their customer base and positions them to remain competitive in the ever-evolving financial landscape.

 

Denny Howell is the co-founder and COO of Mahalo Banking, a CUSO that provides online and mobile banking solutions for credit unions. He is an experienced entrepreneurial industry leader with a demonstrated 20+ year history of working in technology, services, financial, and fintech. Denny is also skilled in analytics, strategy, UX, online and mobile banking, agile and process improvements, and project management.

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