Wednesday 25, May 2016

Dubai – MENA Herald: Emirates NBD, one of the leading banking Groups in the region, today revealed findings on the habits and attitudes with regards to finance and banking, among people with disabilities in the UAE.
The research, undertaken in partnership with IPSOS and Sustainable Square, sought to identify and understand the challenges that people with disabilities experience with banking with the aim to create banking solutions that better address their needs and expectations. A total of 225 people with a range of physical disabilities – both visible and non-visible – were surveyed in detail through a mix methodology approach incorporating qualitative exploration and quantitative diagnostics. All respondents were 18 years of age or older and eligible to open a bank account.
The bank revealed findings of the research at the #TogetherLimitless panel discussion where Dr. Hussain Maseeh, Social Programs & Services Expert, Community Development Authority (CDA); Dr Muna M. Alhammadi, Assistant Professor, Institute for Islamic World Studies, Zayed University; Shobhika Kalra, co-Founder of Wings of Angelz; and Suvo Sarkar, Senior Executive Vice President & Group Head – Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Emirates NBD discussed and debated the needs, expectations and solutions towards greater inclusion in the UAE, especially in the banking sector.

Topline findings of the survey include:
Eight out of ten people with some form of disability have some degree of a relationship with a bank in the UAE
Respondents rely heavily on more conventional modes of banking, preferring branch and ATM visits to online and mobile banking channels
The results indicate that people with disabilities feel they are often stereotypically grouped according to the type of their disability (e.g. mobility disabled assumed as one group). Mobility is not necessarily an inclusion challenge for a lot of people with disabilities as many lead an active lifestyle within the physical capabilities that they possess
However, there were differences in habits and expectations between hearing impaired, sight impaired and physically impaired respondents. Any bank that wishes to be relevant and preferred amongst people with disabilities must be cognizant of these and align their products and services to the needs of these people.
Mandating equity in customer service can create resistance to change. Data suggest that much of that resistance can be solved technologically and by in-depth customer service training
Commenting on the genesis of the survey in his opening keynote, Husam Al Sayed, Group Chief Human Resource Officer at Emirates NBD said: “A business cannot consider itself truly successful unless it is able to support and empower the disadvantaged. As part of our aim to help create a truly inclusive UAE, Emirates NBD is committed to laying the groundwork for financial inclusion of people with disabilities.”
Emirates NBD’s commitment to people with disabilities supports the ‘My Community’ initiative launched by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council that aims to transform Dubai to a disability-friendly city by 2020. Under #TogetherLimitless, its flagship advocacy program, the bank is collaborating with partners in the public and private sector towards the sustainable long-term improvement and integration of people with disabilities into the community.
In her capacity as Acting CEO of Social Care & Development Sector, Community Development Authority, Shaikha Dr. Alia Humaid Al Qassimi praised Emirates NBD’s initiative to develop solutions and services that meet people with disabilities’ needs and requirements. AlQassimi indicated that initiatives and projects from leading institutions such as Emirates NBD are a must in order to have satisfactory inclusion for people with disabilities at different levels of society. “Reaching the goals of My Community initiative requires effective collaboration between the government and private sectors and the development of quality services based on scientific methodologies, to truly enhance the inclusion and the empowerment of people with disabilities.”
Speaking at the panel discussion, Suvo Sarkar, Senior Executive Vice President & Group Head – Retail Banking and Wealth Management, Emirates NBD said, “Differently abled people have different needs and expectations from a bank that have to be addressed differently. As a bank that is hallmarked by a superior customer experience where customers benefit from innovation in product, process and service, we want to apply our innovative thinking to create greater financial inclusion and address the banking needs of every segment of society.
“Only a thorough understanding of the needs and expectations of individuals with disabilities will help us create an experience that is easy and frictionless. And help us develop banking products, processes and services that truly address everyone’s needs,” continued Sarkar.
In 2015, Emirates NBD launched #TogetherLimitless, its over-arching advocacy platform and commitment to people with disabilities. Through #TogetherLimitless, Emirates NBD implements key initiatives aimed at creating an inclusive and empowered community in the UAE including benefits for Sanad Cardholders, adaption of branches to be more accessible to people with disabilities; workplace inclusion and a long-term social investment in a program called PRIDE (People Receiving Independence and Dignity thorough Empowerment) for people with cognitive disabilities that runs activities of inclusion, capacity building, and public awareness.