NatWest overhaul banking app to make easier for blind people to use

19 May 2016

NatWest has made significant updates to its mobile banking app so that blind and partially sighted people can use it more easily after an extensive redesign with the help of the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). The app – which will help their 10,000 customers who have some form of visual impairment – is the first ever to be accredited by RNIB. It will be available to customers on iPhone or Android. RNIB estimate that more than two million people in the UK are living with sight loss.

The changes will mean that tasks that had been extremely difficult or altogether impossible for blind and partially sighted people to complete such as viewing transactions, transferring money between accounts and making payments, will now become far easier.

The updates to the design utilise existing technology within iPhone and Android mobiles which allows text on an app to be read out verbally to the user.

Over 160 changes have been made to the app, which include:

  • Contrast in the app has been improved and the colours for some icons have been made more distinct so that partially sighted users can read text more easily.
  • Some information like sort codes are now read out as individual digits, rather than whole numbers, which has made information simpler to understand.
  • The app now reads out the name of the landing page when a customer navigates to it – previously when someone moved to a page they wouldn’t be told what page they were on making it extremely difficult to know what to do next.
  • Icons with technical names have been replaced with easily understood labels so customers now know if it is relevant. So for instance, before the icon used to select ‘contacts’ in the app was labelled “021 plus active” which has no real meaning to customers.

Commenting Les Matheson, NatWest Personal and Business Banking Chief Executive said:

“We want to make banking with us as easy and straightforward as possible, no matter what people’s circumstances are. Last year we introduced the first ever accessible bank card and now, in partnership with RNIB, we have developed a banking app which is just as easy for blind or partially sighted customers to use, as it is for all our customers.”

Commenting, Steve Tyler, Head of Solutions, Strategy and Planning at RNIB said:

“RNIB and NatWest have been working together to improve accessibility for their banking customers.

“This new app provides their customers with access to their bank account via a mobile. It’s a service that is available to all their customers, but has been tested to ensure that it is easy to use by blind and partially sighted people.

“The app offers lots of benefits including transferring money between accounts, making payments, fingerprint login – on the iPhone – and the “get cash” feature whereby the user is sent a code which is then inputted into an ATM in order to get cash out – what’s also great is that blind and partially sighted people have access to the same app as their sighted peers, at the same time.

“RNIB are excited by this new offer, and delighted that NatWest is continuing to work towards providing accessibility for all.”

Separately, users of the NatWest app who use Android phones will now also be able to use fingerprint authentication to log-in to their mobile app, a first for a UK bank. This removes the need to remember a passcode and yet it remains highly secure.