How To Make Online Banking Disabled-People-Friendly

Banks have undertaken extensive steps to transform their customer experience over the last decade in keeping with sweeping technological advancements. However, these efforts have yet to meet the needs of one key customer demographic: people with disabilities (PWDs).

In a post-pandemic world, accessibility has emerged as a critical factor for all customers, with most choosing online channels to perform their financial transactions. Our recent research found that new technologies can enable banks to become partners in the financial well-being of their customers. In the case of PWDs, banks must improve accessibility to help this underserved consumer category to enhance their financial well-being.

As of 2018, 58% of banking websites failed accessibility tests that examine websites on four principles: perceivability, operability, understandability and robustness. And a recent rise in lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (and resultant reputational and business risks) suggest that banks have a long way to go in addressing this matter. Importantly, improving accessibility benefits not only PWDs but all users since banks are likely to uncover related issues affecting all customers.

This means fixing accessibility loopholes in the current offerings as well as ensuring that the objective is embodied in banks’ digital blueprints and organizational culture. While the former can be achieved by adopting latest standards such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1), the latter calls for a focused approach to spread awareness about accessibility among employees and to leverage the power of data and intelligent machines to uncover and fix issues.

Why Accessibility Matters for Banks

Banks’ websites falter at accessibility

Market opportunity

Surge in mobile banking post-COVID

  • Post-COVID, there was a 85% surge in online banking registrations in the US.

Roadmap for building inclusive, accessible banking

Customer service is the cornerstone for digital brands. Applying data collected from multiple touchpoints enhances banks’ ability to attract and retain customers and boost brand loyalty. Yet every year, businesses in the US lose billions of dollars in revenue due to poor customer experience. For banks, this could mean losing customers to more aggressive and accommodating fintechs.

The accessibility blind spot creates hurdles that undermine user experience, and generates legal risks for businesses: More than 2,000 ADA lawsuits were filed in federal courts in 2020, and the number is likely to be higher this year. Meanwhile, the entry of nonbank digital insurgents means that switching banks is now easier than ever, especially among the younger set.

We have worked with leading US banks and financial services companies to make their websites more accessible. This has helped us create a roadmap to remediate accessibility issues. This bottom-up approach can be applied across a banks’ digital landscape.

Creating ADA-Compliance Framework for a Financial Services Provider

We worked with one of the largest US-based independent broker-dealers, with 15,000-plus financial advisors, which wanted to make its cluster of advisor-facing and home-office-facing applications compliant with the latest WCAG 2.1 guidelines.

We began by carrying out an end-to-end manual and automated assessment of the existing list of applications for ADA compliance. These included unique/high profile web pages for accessibility assessment, access set-ups and assessment plans. By analyzing aspects such as keyboard and screen readers (navigation, heading structure, text sizing, etc.) and using code screening to perform compliance analysis and identifying gaps, we were able to identify 2,500-plus accessibility issues.

Based on these issues, we remediated 250-plus online pages, forms and pdfs in accordance with WCAG 2.1 guidelines. We deployed an Angular JS-based framework and a scaled Agile methodology to revamp webpages according to the guidelines.

Furthermore, we evaluated all existing advisor/home-office-facing applications to identify accessibility issues, the risks they pose and suggested solutions. We then created an ADA governance framework to determine which level of compliance is required. Finally, we developed internal processes and architectural standards to ensure ADA compliance requirements are “baked in” to future projects/enhancements.

Functions such as opening new accounts, trading, advisor practice management, account viewing, etc. were overhauled as a result of the remediation efforts. We were able to create:

  • A superior user experience with inclusive design catering to disabled category financial advisors.
  • An ADA-compliant framework, with a catalog of checkpoints and best practices for future remediation exercises.
  • A roadmap for future development and the launch of public-facing websites and technology impacting investors and advisors.

Future of accessible banking

The shift to online banking post-COVID is believed to be permanent, making accessibility a key for customer engagement. Becoming and staying WCAG compliant may not be mandatory, but is critical for creating delightful customer journeys in today’s hypercompetitive banking sector. To stay ahead of the curve, we suggest:

  • Avoid the easy fix trap. Accessibility must be seen as an ongoing requirement, meaning remediation efforts should build on past successes rather than easy fixes which may create problems later.
  • Upskill web development talent. In-house web development expertise is critical for accessibility. Upskilling the existing web development teams will provide continuous support and save costs.

Sachin is a consulting partner and Senior Director in Cognizant’s Banking Consulting Practice in India. He has more than 20 years of experience in banking

Source: How To Make Online Banking Disabled-People-Friendly

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Critics:

Worst-rated banks Despite being parent bank to First Direct, HSBC received the lowest score from customers (62%), followed by TSB (65%). TSB earned just two stars for both online and branch banking, HSBC earned three stars across the board.
Negative comments from TSB customers cited recent branch closures (82 in 2019 and a further 164 by the end of this year) or criticised its digital services for ‘frequent IT problems’, or being ‘unusable’. There were more damning statements, too – one customer feels that staff ‘talk down to you like you’re daft just because you are in a wheelchair’.
Another said that ‘the bank has no idea when it comes to dealing with me being deaf and blind’. TSB said that it continually works to improve support available to disabled customers, and has recently partnered with the Digital Accessibility Centre to review its mobile app and website. HSBC UK said it strives to ensure its products and services are fully inclusive, accessible and flexible for all customers:
‘We are actively engaging with customers with disabilities to enhance our digital experiences as well as ensuring our branches are fully accessible.’
More Banking Possibilities:

Accessibility at Lloyds

Lloyds digital skills courses

Lloyds’ Signly browser extension for BSL translation

Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) state

Accessible services at Nationwide

Nationwide’s commitment to digital accessibility

Accessibility at Halifax

Accessible services at Natwest

Banking support from Natwest during coronavirus

Natwest video banking service

How to videos for mobile banking with Natwest

Accessibility at First Direct 

Video Relay Services at First Direct 

Starling Connected Card

How to pay in cheques from your mobile phone

Coronavirus support blog

Scope Coronavirus information and updates

How to get support from your bank (UK Finance)

How is your bank helping customers in the coronavirus pandemic (Moneyfacts)

RNIB mobile banking apps accessibility overview

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Nasdaq To Move Markets to Amazon’s Cloud

Nasdaq Inc. said that next year it plans to begin moving its North American markets to Amazon. com Inc.’s Amazon Web Services cloud-computing platform.

The move, which will take a phased approach starting with Nasdaq MRX, a U.S. options market, involves turning over massive amounts of the exchange operator’s data to a third-party cloud service. Nasdaq didn’t disclose a timeline for moving its other markets.

Nasdaq’s ambition is to become “one hundred percent cloud-enabled,” Adena Friedman, the company’s chief executive, said in announcing the move Tuesday at an AWS industry conference in Las Vegas. “We will follow with more of our markets as we work closely with clients,” Ms. Friedman said.

Nasdaq has previously said that all of its more than 25 markets will be hosted in the cloud within the next decade.

They include six equity markets in North America, including the Nasdaq Stock Market, as well as six equity derivative markets, the Nasdaq Baltic and Nasdaq Nordic markets, and fixed-income and commodity markets.

The financial-services sector has been slower to adopt cloud computing than other industries, stemming in part from the tight regulatory oversight of banks and exchanges, as well as concerns over breaches of sensitive client data.

“To the extent that they don’t disintermediate their trading partners and investors, moving to the cloud gives exchanges greater flexibility, as well as enables more people to connect, enables people to connect easier,” said Larry Tabb, head of market-structure research at Bloomberg Intelligence.

Earlier this month, CME Group Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google struck a deal to move CME’s core trading systems to the cloud.

Nasdaq already stores billions of transaction records in a data warehouse operated by AWS, including daily orders and quotes transmitted by traders. Over the years, the company has migrated a number of services to AWS, including its revenue management system for the U.S. and European markets. Its existing relationship with AWS is a big reason Nasdaq said it chose the Amazon.com unit to host its markets.

“We have had a longstanding relationship with them,” said Brad Peterson, Nasdaq’s chief technology and information officer.

Cloud systems and apps are hosted on data centers operated by third-party providers, including tech giants such as Amazon.com, Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. The systems enable users to rapidly scale computing needs, based on demand, with far greater ease than in their own data centers.

Mr. Peterson has credited cloud systems for keeping Nasdaq from suspending trading in January, when a frenzy for shares of GameStop Corp. and a handful of other companies flooded popular online brokerages, caused a spike in market volatility and forced many operators to restrict access to trading.

He said moving markets to the cloud has the potential to provide the exchange with more security, greater reliability and better scalability, or the ability to quickly power up computing resources. Nasdaq and AWS could also create new cloud-based products and services for Nasdaq’s customers, Mr. Peterson said.

Scott Mullins, head of world-wide financial services business development at AWS, said Nasdaq’s growing use of cloud systems is driven by a need for elasticity and resilience to handle market volatility, along with hundreds of billions of trading events every day. “If you’re doing that on customized hardware, you’re going to have to guess what your capacity needs to be,” Mr. Mullins said.

The two companies have been working together to build out Nasdaq’s cloud-based capabilities since about 2012, Mr. Mullins said. “If you get a bill from Nasdaq today, it’s coming from a data lake sitting in AWS,” Mr. Mullins said.

“We’re only going to do it at a pace that works for us, AWS and our clients,” said Tal Cohen, executive vice president and head of North American markets at Nasdaq.

Ms. Friedman said the move announced Tuesday centers on the exchanges’ matching engines, systems that connect buyers and sellers and handle a vast number of price quotes and trades, many submitted by high-speed trading firms accustomed to having the exchange’s systems process orders in millionths of a second.

Mr. Peterson said that in the first phase of the move, Nasdaq’s primary data center for its U.S. equities and options markets in Carteret, N.J., will be expanded and AWS will install computing resources there. Traders will be allowed to connect their servers to AWS servers the same way they currently connect to Nasdaq’s servers, he said.

By: John McCormick & Angus Loten

Source: Nasdaq to Move Markets to Amazon’s Cloud – WSJ

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NFT Of The World Wide Web Source Code Sells For $5.4 Million

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the internet

On Wednesday, 32 years after English computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee penned “Information Management: A Proposal,” the genesis of the World Wide Web, Sotheby’s auctioned the Web’s original source code for $5.4 million. It was, of course, in the form of a nonfungible token aka an NFT.

The source code for the Web was sold to an anonymous buyer, according to Sotheby’s. There were a total of 51 bids on the NFT.

“NFTs, be they artworks or a digital artifact like this, are the latest playful creations in this realm, and the most appropriate means of ownership that exists, Berners-Lee said in a statement about the auction. “They are the ideal way to package the origins behind the Web.”

Sotheby conducted the auction, titled “This changed everything” from June 23 through June 30 with the bidding starting at $1,000. The British-founded global marketplace for art collectibles has recently added digital collectibles such as NFTs to its offerings. The proceeds from the $5.4 million will go toward initiatives that Tim Berners-Lee supports, including his open source technology Solid.

NFTs are rapidly becoming a way for members of the digital community to create a virtual museum and document historic moments on the internet, whether that was the $4 million sale of the Doge meme NFT or when Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sold an NFT of his first tweet for $2.9 million or when digital artist Itzel Yard sold an NFT art made from the key of the first Tor Browser, making her the highest-selling female NFT artist.

Gauthier Zuppinger is the co-founder of nonfungible.com, a database that tracks the sales of NFTs and crypto collectibles. He compared the source code to CryptoPunks, one of the first non-fungible tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. Zuppinger says the code’s singularity and its monumental role in the foundation of the digital world contributed to the skyrocketing bidding price for the NFT.

So what exactly does the anonymous buyer receive? It doesn’t receive any unique usage rights because the source code for the web has been public domain since 1991 when CERN released the worldwide web code library.

The NFT itself contains a myriad of technical tid-bits and gemstones in the history of the Web. The four elements include the original time-stamped files containing the code that was written between October,1990, and August, 1991. The 9,555 lines of code written in the Objective-C programming language depicts the application of three inventions made by the physicist-turned-software engineer: HTML (Hypertext Markup Language); HTTP (Hyper Transfer Protocol); and URIs (Uniform Resource Identifiers). The buyer will also receive a letter from Berners-Lee, an animated visualization and a digital poster of the code.

“As people seem to appreciate the autographed versions of books, now we have NFT technology, I thought it could be fun to make an autographed copy of the original code of the first web browser,” Berners-Lee’s statement reads.

Apart from being the man behind the Web, Berners-Lee is also a director of the World Wide Web consortium, which looks over the development of the Web. As the co-founder and chief technology officer of Inrupt, he is honing open source technology called Solid to come closer to his original vision for the Web to be a shared information space for all members of the society.

Dr. Merav Ozair, an expert on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology and a fintech faculty member at Rutgers Business School, compared the NFT sale of the World Wide Web source code to the historic moment when the founding fathers of the United States of America signed the Declaration of Independence. The only difference is that the code that created the web also changed the way the world functions today.

“This was also a historic moment when he created a code that initiated everything, and this is not something only for the U.S. it’s for the global community, everywhere,” she says.

Ozair says the auction marks the kick off of Web 3.0, a version of the web where cryptocurrencies thrive.

The source code for the web is already public domain. In fact, Berners-Lee fought with CERN officials for it to be that way, says Marc Webber, the curatorial director of the internet history program at the Computer History Museum.

“It’s a little bit paradoxical. You know, you’ve got an NFT on this completely public domain open thing,” says Webber, who has been researching the history of the web since 1995.

The auction has instigated curiosity about web history, Webber says. But the commodification of computer and technology history could make it difficult for museum curators like him to procure such digital artifacts when NFTs offer the owner lump sum pay-offs and a wide audience.

Webber says that Berners-Lee has had multiple opportunities to cash in on his invention but has always chosen not to so that the web remains in the public domain. “I do know that this is not like a simple ploy to get money,” he says.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

I write about tech startups and innovation. I am receiving my master’s degree in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri. I’ve previously written and worked for Vox Magazine in Columbia, Missouri and Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City.

Source: NFT Of The World Wide Web Source Code Sells For $5.4 Million

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Critics:

A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger, called a blockchain, that certifies a digital asset to be unique and therefore not interchangeable. NFTs can be used to represent items such as photos, videos, audio, and other types of digital files. Access to any copy of the original file, however, is not restricted to the buyer of the NFT. While copies of these digital items are available for anyone to obtain, NFTs are tracked on blockchains to provide the owner with a proof of ownership that is separate from copyright.

The NFT market value tripled in 2020, reaching more than $250 million. During the first quarter of 2021, NFT sales exceeded $2 billion. A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unit of data stored on a digital ledger, called a blockchain, which can be sold and traded. The NFT can be associated with a particular digital or physical asset (a file or a physical object) and a license to use the asset for a specified purpose. NFTs (and the associated license to use, copy or display the underlying asset) can be traded and sold on digital markets.

NFTs function like cryptographic tokens, but unlike cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, are not mutually interchangeable, in other words, not fungible (e.g. one bitcoin is equivalent to any other bitcoin while every NFT may represent a different underlying asset and thus have a different value). NFTs are created when blockchains string records of cryptographic hash, a set of characters identifying a set of data, onto previous records therefore creating a chain of identifiable data blocks.

This cryptographic transaction process ensures the authentication of each digital file by providing a digital signature that is used to track NFT ownership. However, data links that point to details like where the art is stored can die.The speculative market for NFTs has led more investors to trade at greater volumes and rates.The buying surge of NFTs was called an economic bubble by experts, who also compared it to the Dot-com bubble.

By mid-April 2021, demand appeared to have substantially subsided, causing prices to fall significantly; early buyers were reported to have “done supremely well” by Bloomberg Businessweek. An NFT of the source code of the World Wide Web, credited to internet inventor computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee, was auctioned in June 2021 by Sotheby’s in London, and was sold for USD$5.4

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