Tencent’s WeBank App Now Accessible for Visually Impaired Users in China

Tencent’s WeBank App Now Accessible for Visually Impaired Users in China

by October 20, 2020

Tencent’s WeBank, a digital-only bank in China, announced that has enabled accessibility features on its app to ensure visually impaired Chinese citizens can easily access its banking services in conjunction with the White Cane Safety Day on 15 October.

According to data from the Second National Sample Survey of Disabled Persons, there are more than 17 million people with visual impairments in mainland China, accounting for around 21% of the total disabled population. However, less than 10% of apps and websites in the market are accessible for the visually impaired.

WeBank App is integrated with advanced technologies in its accessible version.

Ting Hua, the developer of accessibility features of WeBank App, said:

WeBank App is integrated with advanced technologies to provide personalised and humanised financial services for visually impaired users. These technologies include face anti-spoofing, artificial intelligence (AI)-powered speech synthesis, acceleration sensor, real-time image processing, vibration sensor and edge detection of human face.”

Since 2019, WeBank started its in-depth research on information accessibility, the company has gradually learned more about visually impaired users’ pain points. This led them to develop and design accessibility features on the app to help the visually impaired manage their finances.

For example, when visually impaired users use facial recognition, they face difficulties like aligning their face to the phone and blinking their eyes. To resolve these problems, the WeBank app leverages face anti-spoofing technology to free these users from nodding, blinking or reading.

Using a voice guide, vibrations and AI technology, the app detects the deviation between the face and the facial recognition area, helping the user move the mobile phone to align with his/her face.

The app also features other functions, such as the “Shake-to-enquire” function, which allows users to shake their mobile phone to quickly find a page, such as transaction queries, debit cards, recently purchased products, finding staff services quickly etc.

The app has pages displaying dynamic information, such as financial products, which has been designed in a vertical “up to down” layout to ensure easier browsing for users. It also has an earphone-enabled privacy mode ensures users’ balances are only read out when an earphone is connected.

Zhenyu Fang, Executive Assistant President of WeBank, said:

“The development framework of the app has been open-sourced, which means WeBank can share their accessibility exploration with the industry, which helps to improve accessibility features for more financial products.”

In the future, WeBank hopes to collaborate with more financial companies to boost social good and develop information accessibility tools to realise true “inclusive finance.”