Nigeria’s United Bank for Africa (UBA) has officially introduced a groundbreaking initiative to promote financial inclusion in the banking system by launching the UBA Braille Account Opening Form for visually impaired individuals.
This initiative was unveiled during an event at the bank’s headquarters in Lagos on Tuesday, June 27th in collaboration with the Anglo-Nigerian Welfare Association for the Blind. It is the first move of its kind in Nigeria, specifically targeting the visually impaired demographic.
Historically, visually impaired individuals have relied on assistance from family and friends to open bank accounts, but this innovative form enables them to independently initiate and complete the account opening process.
Cobhams Asuquo, a renowned music producer who is visually impaired, praised the new account opening form as it enhances the experience for people like him. He commended UBA for promoting inclusivity and empowering visually impaired individuals to exercise their freedom while accessing a wide range of opportunities and options.
Ugo Nwaghodoh, UBA’s Executive Director of Finance and Risk Management, emphasized that this initiative underscores the bank’s commitment to prioritizing the needs of visually impaired individuals and other physically challenged persons.
By introducing the Braille account opening form, UBA aims to ensure that everyone has the right to choose the type of account they want to operate, thereby promoting financial autonomy.
“It is important to achieve financial inclusion and one of the key things that is driving it is that we desire to make sure everyone feels at home in our banking environment,” Ugo said.
“Today what you have is people reading out the content of the account opening form for this category of customers. Sometimes they don’t get the right message on the account opening form or the person reading it to them is too fast or slow, and they don’t get the information.
“Our objective is to put this freedom in their hands and to make it possible for them to independently read the account opening form and understand what is required and make their choices.”
The impact of this initiative extends beyond UBA’s branches in Nigeria. The bank has confirmed that visually impaired individuals in the 19 other countries where it operates will also have access to this inclusive feature.
Dare Dairo, the General Manager of the Lagos State Office of Disability Affairs, applauded UBA for supporting the government’s efforts to champion such endeavors and emphasized the significance of private institutions contributing to the advancement of financial inclusion for disabled individuals.
While financial inclusion initiatives have been promoted by the country’s government, startups, and larger companies, the needs of individuals with impairments have often been overlooked. Last year, a feature highlighted how commercial banks in Nigeria and Ghana hindered physically challenged individuals from accessing basic financial services due to structural and policy deficiencies. Many bank branches in Nigeria lack wheelchair accessibility, and the use of mantrap door designs, intended for security, presents obstacles for individuals with mobility impairments.
While UBA’s Braille account opening form is a positive step forward, it is crucial for other banks and stakeholders in the financial industry to take similar measures. By implementing innovative solutions to level the playing field for disabled individuals, both customers and banks will benefit, ultimately contributing to economic growth.