Bank of Russia sums up banks’ barrier-free environment ranking results

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The Bank of Russia found out how credit institutions comply with regulator’s recommendations on creating the accessible environment for disabled, senior and mobility-impaired individuals. This was the message of the BoR Governor Elvira Nabiullina at the meeting of the working group on the financial inclusion of persons with disabilities (PWDs) and low mobility persons (LMPs) on 23 April 2018.

According to Elvira Nabiullina, 43% of credit institutions have, for the most part, executed the recommendations that the regulator sent to them in its special information letter in the end of 2017; 25% are currently working on improving the accessibility for this group of clients and plan to complete this work in 2018–2019. However, almost a third of banks have failed to follow the regulator’s recommendations, of which the BoR Governor expressed her concern. ‘It is a signal that we should work with such institutions more closely’, Elvira Nabiullina noted.

NAFI Research Centre, in turn, presented the results of the first stage of its study called ‘The assessment of financial inclusion of persons with disabilities in 2017–2018’. NAFI experts compiled a preliminary list of 20 major Russian banks ranked by their level of adaptation to the needs of clients with disabilities and identified the financial services that these groups of individuals used most often and the barriers they faced.

The study showed that 92% PWDs had accounts with banks, 82% had payment cards and 40% had deposits because all of them received state support and many of them were economically active individuals. At the same time, they are characterised by restrained credit behaviour: this group is twice as less active in the borrowing market (16%) than the population in general.

When assessing their financial inclusion, the overwhelming majority of blind customers (86%) said that they had a problem with it. The same assessment was received from two thirds of deaf persons (64%). In general, nearly a half of all PWDs (46%) said that it was more difficult for them to use financial services than for other people. Among specific barriers related to disabilities, research participants named the inconveniently located and ill-equipped bank branches as well as denials of services.

The accessibility ranking of banks was prepared by NAFI with the help of expert users, representing people with different kinds of disabilities, who assessed the accessibility of information on the credit institution’s website and the possibility of receiving the desired services and information by phone and upon a personal visit to the bank. 20 largest banks that voluntarily took part in the rating provided the research group with a list of their Moscow offices and informed about special facilities available at the premises and on the website. The study showed that Raiffeisenbank, Sberbank and Home Credit Bank were the leaders in terms of accessibility with the Credit Bank of Moscow, Rosbank and Alfabank in the second, and Citibank in the third place. The representatives of banks that participated in the study noted that it provided them with an opportunity to correct their errors and to equip their Moscow and regional branches taking into account the comments received.

During the meeting of the working group, a pilot project of the National Payment Card System and Rosselkhozbank was presented that allows PWDs to use bracelets and fobs to make contactless payments using Mir payment cards. Banks that are members of the working group, public institutions and PWD organisations were offered to take part in testing new form factors.

24 April 2018

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