Digital payments become safer for the visually impaired

News - 03 April 2023 - Communication

Paying digitally with your bank card is an everyday affair for most of us. But what if you are partially sighted or blind? Then you have to trust that the amount you pay is indeed correct. With the help of research by master student Jackie (Yongqing) Fei, the design of the ING payment app was adapted to overcome this shortcoming.

Paying an amount in a shop with your mobile payment card on your smartphone is a matter of course for most people. But for people with a visual impairment, it is difficult or impossible to see the amount to be paid. With the screen reader on the smartphone, they normally only hear how much has been paid after the payment.

Master's student at TU Delft, Faculty of Industrial Design Engineering, Jackie (Yongqing) Fei looked for their Masters dissertation into this challenge and worked with experts around visual impairment. Jackie investigated what challenges these people face in this area. 

Based on these findings, a new payment flow was developed with a read-aloud function, which lets the payer hear the amount involved and the next payment steps. This functionality was built as an option into the payment app of ING, which was involved in this research through its makeathon project.

Expert Debby explains: “This new feature gives me more confidence during the payment process. Because of my visual impairment, I can't read what amount the cash register or payment terminal indicates. I don't have the check that people without visual impairment have, so it comes down to trusting the employee operating the machine. This new feature allows you to hear the amount through your phone's screen reader and only then do you agree to the payment.”

Inclusive design approach

Jackie (Yongqing) Fei’s thesis takes an inclusive design approach to understand the mismatches between people with visual impairment (PVIs) and the current payment infrastructure in the Netherlands. The research applies existing Inclusive Design and general UX design methods to the context of payment to reveal latent user needs and co-design solutions.

Jackie said: “I’ve always wanted to create a positive social impact by designing products and services that are more accessible and sustainable. The Inclusive Design course with Professor Boess inspired me to do an inclusive design project for my thesis. Working with ING was an incredibly rewarding experience. And seeing my thesis concept integrated into the ING App, making a real change, was truly amazing.”

Watch the ING-videos on this project here and here.

Discover the Inclusive Design Lab here