people in wheelchairs disabled access Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP/Getty Images

Closing the Financial Services’ Accessibility Gap

Financial inclusion is an often-overlooked component of development policy, and this is especially true when it comes to people with disabilities. But with disabled people representing a market possibly worth $1 trillion, the financial-services sector has every reason to take the lead on the issue.

KAMPALA – Last month, the United Kingdom hosted the first-ever Global Disability Summit to help focus the world’s attention on the needs of people with disabilities. The agenda was packed with topics like building equitable education, ending discrimination, and bringing technology to disabled communities – especially poor countries in the Global South.

But one challenge that did not receive the attention it deserved is an often-overlooked component of development policy: access to financial services. This was a missed opportunity – not only for the world’s one billion disabled people, but also for the institutions that should be serving them.

Increasing the accessibility of financial services is good for business and economic growth. According to research by Barclays, when customers with disabilities are able to manage their money, economic vulnerability declines and overall economic health improves. Moreover, with more than $1 trillion in disposable income, the so-called disability market is among the biggest potential client bases in the world. In other words, financial-service providers have every reason to cater to people with disabilities. Why, then, are most businesses doing just the opposite?

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