By Jordan Richards, founder and CEO of RCCO.
The fintech industry is booming and more solutions come onto the market every day, but what many developers are overlooking is the need for accessibility. With 20% of the population needing assistive technology, new digital fintech products can only be considered successful if they are accessible to all. Finding ways to help adapt and create digital products that are accessible is becoming progressively more important, so how can we enable more users to experience fintech solutions while ensuring the fixes aren’t worse than the flaws?
What are the difficulties with fintech, UX, and accessibility?
The uptake of digital banking solutions has increased steadily throughout the last decade. With 93% of Brits using online banking in 2022 – an increase of almost 50% in 10 years. With fintech solutions becoming increasingly essential in day to day living and financial management, it’s important to understand that user experience (UX) needs to apply to all. And with estimates that more than 3.5 billion people will need assistive products by 2050, developers have a lot to consider when it comes to the creation of accessible products.
Right now, globally, 2.2 billion people have a near or distance vision impairment and 1 in 12 men (8%) and 1 in 200 women are affected by colour blindness. This should matter to fintech developers because with sites focusing on visual design, many potential users are not only being alienated from engagement with individual providers but prevented from accessing products and services that could transform their way of working or living. This will continue for as long as websites and apps rely on colour and contrast to differentiate site elements or show that they are interactive. When there is an absence of contrast, a site may look appealing, but readability is significantly impacted. These usability issues cut out a large portion of the market.
There are further concerns surrounding sites and apps that deploy audio cues. Nearly 20% of the global population is currently living with hearing loss – 430 million of them have disabling hearing loss. While the proliferation of fintech is largely considered to be beneficial for those with hearing disorders, providing mobile visual data to work from, there is still a lot of subtitle-free audio data in use, limiting the useability and user experience of products.
In failing to create accessible products, fintech developers aren’t just failing to live up to a moral obligation, but limiting the potential of their products.
What do fintechs needs to consider when creating an accessible platform?
If a fintech solution has usability issues, it is likely that it is also losing revenue. By making a product that is highly accessible, you are delivering benefits to every single person using it, as well as the business it serves. Rather than focusing on rapid building and feature loading, accessibility needs to be at the top of every developer’s list. So, how can accessibility be built into the heart of every fintech product?
Work with a diverse team
Having a diverse team involved in product creation really helps to ensure that you are thinking about the widest audience group while designing. The best people to solve accessibility problems are those who are used to confronting them. If people can bring their personal experiences and knowledge to the table to ensure that you really are thinking about your users, you will be exposed to issues and considerations that you may otherwise have never considered. A diverse team will also enable you to thoroughly test your product on a broader demographic.
Consider every aspect through the lens of accessibility
Creating and adapting digital products and making sure the fix isn’t worse than the flaws, begins with a robust design and component library. If the design standards haven’t been created with accessibility in mind and tested in many different use cases, you are setting up for failure.
It is vital that every design choice – from colour, to font, sizing, layouts, and everything else you can think of – is made not simply from a ‘what looks good’ perspective, but a ‘is this usable’ approach. The best way to achieve a high standard is through testing and iteration, because no one can get it perfect from day one. A good place to look for inspiration is product design leaders like Google. Go deep into their design libraries, like Material.io, where they have had hundreds of leading product designers think about the extensive possibilities with usability at the heart. Because if you can get the design basics right, the rest should naturally follow.
Create accessible content
It is also important to remember that not all accessibility issues are physical. There has been a drive for ‘clever’ content in recent years, but in fintech, simplicity and understandability are vital. Creating easy-to-digest content enhances useability for all.
In 2021, 90% of websites were considered inaccessible to people with disabilities who rely on assistive technology. With the wealth of blogs and personal internet sites, this figure is hardly surprising. It is a concern because so much of our lives are now lived online. By failing to address accessibility issues, fintech businesses are adding to the global problem and making those who rely on assistive tech feel unheard, frustrated and not thought about. From a business perspective, it is creating a barrier between your brand and a potentially loyal audience and when you view it in that way, investing in accessibility only makes sense.
Jordan was one of the youngest Google apprentices, starting at just 18 and stayed on for three years to become a creative lead. He has since become founder of digital design agency RCCO, a 20-person team working with tech giants like Google globally, and exciting start-ups with investment. He is also co-founder of WILD, a video production studio working with PureGym and Revolut, and owner of FounderSphere, a community for young entrepreneurs.