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A new tactile banknote, but accessible banking faces technological threat

20 September 2017

While Australian currency is now more accessible than ever with today’s launch of the new tactile $10 note, concerns remain that technology being introduced by the commercial banking sector could leave people from the blind and low vision community behind.

Today’s launch of the new $10 note has been welcomed by blindness and low vision advocates, however they have also warned about the new wave of challenges faced by the blind and low vision community when it comes to accessible banking.

Karen Knight, Vision Australia General Manager of Advocacy and Engagement, said while tactile currency has provided the blind and low vision community with greater confidence and security in transacting with banknotes, technology such as touchscreens pose a major hurdle to accessible banking.

“From speaking to our blind and low vision clients we know the introduction of the tactile $5 note has had a positive impact in their lives and we’re excited to see a second tactile note entering circulation,” Ms Knight said.

“They say the tactile features have significantly helped them to identify banknotes and to feel more confident to pay with and receive cash,” she said.

“While cash still plays a major role in day-to-day transactions, electronic payment methods are increasingly becoming the norm. It’s vital that any further advances in technology in this area have accessibility at the forefront.”

Image shows a new $10 note being looked at through a magnifying glass
Ms Knight said the Australian banking sector needs to be in constant and permanent discussion with the disability and accessibility sectors to ensure any advancements take into the consideration the needs of all Australians.

“People who are blind or have low vision deserve the same opportunities as everyone else to complete their financial transactions safely and securely and to be able to access their finances easily.

“We aren’t against idea of ‘smart banking’ such as mobile apps, touchscreens on ATMs and other merchant devices, but the blind and low vision community should not be put in a position where they have to hand over their personal information or rely on another person to help them complete a transaction.”

Media contact: Phil McCarroll, Communications Advisor, Vision Australia, 0416 632 253

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