WeBank's Accessible App Makes Online Banking Easier for Visually Impaired Citizens in China
SHENZHEN, China, Oct. 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- On 15 October, White Cane Safety Day, WeBank, the first privately-owned and digital-only bank in China, announced how it has utilized leading fintech to improve accessible services on WeBank App over the past year. The accessibility features on the App now ensure visually impaired Chinese citizens can easily access WeBank's online banking services. It is part of WeBank's effort to use technology as a force for social good.
According to data from the Second National Sample Survey of Disabled Persons, there are more than 17 million people with visual impairments in mainland China, accounting for around 21% of the total disabled population. However, less than 10% of Apps and websites in the market are accessible for the visually impaired.
Ting Hua, the developer of accessibility features of WeBank App, said: "WeBank has always highly valued social responsibility and keeps exploring the demands of users with visual impairment. We are not satisfied with only developing products that are 'usable,' but we aim to make them 'easily accessible,' by leveraging cutting-edge technology to provide the visually impaired with the same financial services as every WeBank customer. WeBank App is integrated with advanced technologies to provide personalized and humanized financial services for visually impaired users. These technologies include face anti-spoofing, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered speech synthesis, acceleration sensor, real-time image processing, vibration sensor and edge detection of human face."
Since 2019, when WeBank started its in-depth research on information accessibility, the company has gradually learned more and more about visually impaired users' pain points, and develops and designs accessibility features on the App to help the visually impaired manage their finances.
For example, when visually impaired users use facial recognition, they face difficulties like aligning their face to the phone and eyes blinking. To resolve these problems, WeBank App leverages the face anti-spoofing technology to free these users from nodding, blinking or reading. By using a voice guide, vibrations and AI technology, the App detects the deviation between the face and the facial recognition area, helping the user move the mobile phone to align with his/her face. The App also features other innovative functions, such as the "Shake-to-enquire" function, which allows users to shake their mobile phone to quickly find a page, such as transaction query, recent debit cards, recently purchased products, etc; To help users find staff services quickly, the App has an exclusive customer service click-to-call button on the "Shake-to-enquire" page; Pages displaying dynamic information, such as financial products, have been designed in a vertical "up to down" layout, to ensure easier browsing for users; And the earphone-enabled privacy mode ensures users' balances are only read out when an earphone is connected.
Zhenyu Fang, Executive Assistant President of WeBank, said: "WeBank actively merges corporate social responsibility into business operations, participates in advancing the public good with inclusive finance, and boosts financial inclusion with a philosophy based on the interests of public benefit. The accessibility technology optimization of WeBank App is equivalent to providing a white stick for every visually impaired person, allowing them to fulfil their financial demands online via mobile phones, making their life more convenient. Furthermore, the development framework of the App has been open-sourced, which means WeBank can share their accessibility exploration with the industry, which helps to improve accessibility features for more financial products."
Lanzhi Dong, a member of the leading party group of Shenzhen Disabled Persons Federation, said: "Regarding technology, two core requirements are required to ensure disabled citizens have more equal opportunities in society: using technology to achieve information accessibility, and ensuring disabled people benefit from the convenience of technology. WeBank's development of accessibility features on its App highlights the company's social responsibility and illustrates how to use 'Tech for Good.' It also highlights WeBank's caring corporate culture and values."
In the future, WeBank hopes to collaborate with more financial companies to boost social good and develop information accessibility tools to realize true "inclusive finance." WeBank will also devote more effort to charity and poverty alleviation activities, and perform social responsibility in various aspects, securing the financial demands of special communities and protecting consumers' rights.
WeBank Co., Ltd. ("WeBank") is the first privately-owned and digital-only bank in China. Launched in 2014, backed by Tencent as the biggest shareholder (30%), WeBank provides convenient financial services to micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and the general public. It is one of the top 100 banks in China, ranking first among privately-owned banks.
In 2019, Moody's and Standard & Poor's gave WeBank "A3" and "BBB+" ratings respectively, and WeBank has been called "the world's leading digital bank" by Forrester.