Accessibility is the new frontier 




When the pandemic first hit, many organisations needed to cultivate agile environments. Suddenly, more than ever before, customers needed to be met, quite literally, anywhere, at any time, at their convenience.

Pushed by the needs of desperate economies globally, accessibility to products and services has become crucial to the survival of industries the world over. That being said, many organisations have stepped up to the challenge – innovating, maintaining, and retaining customers along the way.

Let’s take a look at how some of these organisations have entered the new frontier of accessibility in their respective markets.

Providing businesses and individuals with access to transacting across borders

Barriers such as a lack of financial infrastructure, poor integration of platforms and regulatory issues have long impacted interoperability and the cross-border payments innovations that are key for scaling access across Africa.  For example, remittances are important to African countries, but the cost of sending money between African countries remains high. In South Africa, for example, the average cost of sending remittances was 8.14% in 2020. Billions are being lost to transaction costs, and Fintech solutions for cross-border payments can significantly reduce the amount lost to legacy financial institutions.

MFS Africa has been solving cross-border payments challenges on the continent, boosting the ability of African businesses and individuals to send and receive money across borders. The organisation provides this access through its cross-border payment network that connects to over 400 million mobile wallets in over 35 countries, and operates across over 800 corridors, making cross-border payments seamless and remittances ubiquitous. SMEs, merchants, mobile companies, and financial institutions are also able to scale up access across the continent by partnering with MFS Africa.

Digital makes registering for motor insurance easy

We all know car insurance is a must-have to financially protect us in case something unforeseen happens to our car. But, with the world of insurance a tricky one for most of us to understand, finding the right insurer can feel daunting.

Digitally based car insurer, MiWay Blink’s app makes it convenient for you to sign up to the insurer’s products and, more importantly, when dealing with a tight budget, to use the dynamic pricing aspect while you are toggling the app. This means that you can add extras like car hire, credit shortfall, car extras and change your excess on the app, so that your monthly premium suits your lifestyle and your pocket. Should you go over budget while making your purchase decision, you can adjust features according to the base premium you are presented with before taking up the policy. The technology is also seamless and quick, reducing the time spent on a sign-up process – which typically would be a long phone call – to around five minutes.

More power offered to customers through digital accessibility

There is a convenience that comes with knowing that you can search for and book your stays on your cell phone, from the comfort of your own home and any time of day or night.

Head of Marketing and Communications at online booking platform Jurni, Tshepo Matlou says, “People have become used to the comfort and convenience that technology has brought about. For travel operators to be competitive in this day and age, they have to offer customers the convenience of being able to search for, book and pay for their stays online. It allows people to have options, and more power and control over booking a stay according to their preferences. Digital accessibility is not only good for the consumer, it also challenges businesses to keep up or fall by the wayside.”

Access to wider resources to support SMEs 

Small businesses have many pain points when it comes to establishing themselves as players in a competitive market. They may not have access to the internal and customer-facing applications they need to build customer loyalty and revenue, and without automated processes, simple tasks such as invoicing can take longer than they should. “However, by using low-code tools small businesses can create the customer relationship management tools they need. These tools empower IT teams to develop customised solutions that will automate processes, improve productivity and increase revenue,” says Andrew Bourne, Regional Manager, Zoho Corp. “The right platform, at the right price will make it easier for small businesses to work as well as larger companies with access to wider resources.”

Access to saving and investing 

It is well-known that South Africa has a weak savings culture, with many South Africans unable to save any money at the end of the month. Upnup is a new passive micro-investing app, that allows you to put away small amounts of money, consistently and over time. The app rounds up each time you spend, to the nearest rand, and that money is automatically invested. Tony Mallam, CEO of upnup, notes that, “It’s a method for saving money on a regular basis. Simply set and forget, and the app will do the rest.”

Mallam continues: “Our mission is to promote a culture of thrift and to make saving as convenient as possible without putting pressure on consumers’ budgets. Instead, take a tiny sum of money each week by rounding up or totaling purchases. It’s a straightforward way to start your savings journey.”

Accessibility with empathy at its foundation 

Accessibility may mean different things in different contexts but what it should never be is a tickbox exercise, simply done to satisfy regulatory requirements.

“In my experience – and something that we are wholly committed to at Salesforce – accessibility starts with taking the time to understand the real needs of the people your product is serving, rather than a hypothetical average user,” says Linda Saunders, Director of Solutions Engineering, Salesforce South Africa.

Saunders continues: “One way of doing this is approaching technology and innovation with more empathy. Not only does empathy lead to a better user experience but it also works to build trust that in turn builds brand equity that extends far beyond one specific product solution. A solution is only a solution if its impact can be measured and quantified.”

Accessibility is the result of a process and an approach that has empathy as its foundation and where the goal is a fit-to-purpose solution for real human beings.

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