2018 BAI Global Innovation Award Finalist

BAI Global Innovation Awards 2018 finalist Kasikorn Bank


Innovation in Societal and Community Impact

K PLUS Beacon – All-Inclusive Mobile Banking Application for the Visually Impaired

K PLUS Beacon is a new form of financial inclusion that allows customers with visual impairment–the blind, the low vision and the elderly–access to financial products and services via the innovative, all-inclusive mobile banking application. It’s specifically designed from the ground up to address the challenges and needs of the visually impaired allowing them to use it without sight. No need to look at the screen! With the combinations of simple fingers movements and gestures, haptic and voice feedbacks together with simplified and intuitive menu system/application flows, K PLUS Beacon enable the visually impaired to do money transfers, balance inquiries, topping-up and bill payments with ease, confidence and privacy.

K PLUS Beacon features the following essential mobile banking functions:

–     “FAVOURITES”, user-configurable shortcuts that allow for frequent transactions to be quickly and easily conducted without the users having to go through all the steps every time.
–     “TRANSFER”, intra and inter-bank electronic money transfer via account number, phone number or Promptpay (Thailand’s standard for inter-bank electronic fund transfer via QR code).
–     “BALANCE”, real-time account balance enquiry.
–     “TOP UP”, top up services allowing for convenient ways to fill up a variety of pre-paid services such as mobile phone.
–     “PAY BILLS”, electronic bill payment services for utility bills such as water and electricity. The payment can be easily done via shortcuts of scanning the bar code printed on the statements.
–     “HISTORY”, easy-to-get-to records of previous transactions and activities from all services mentioned earlier.

KPLUS Beacon team photo

The Problem

According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 900 million people worldwide suffering from some degree of vision loss. The majority are the elderly which is around 635 million people, the low vision around 246 million people, and the 39 million blind people.

The impact of visual impairment is not limited to sufferers, but also to their families and their societies. For instance, visual impairment may lead to poorer health of sufferers and make education and employment inaccessible to them. Visual impairment also impacts families of sufferers as they have to care for them, reducing their opportunities to earn money, increasing the family’s risk of poverty. The impact is also experienced at the national level, where vision loss can lead to economic deficits and increased direct and in-direct costs to the health sector since visual impairment has considerable economic costs both directly due to the cost of treatments and indirectly due to decreased ability to work. With a rapidly aging population, the impact of vision loss is expected to rise.

The Solution

Our vision is to create a new user experience on smartphones that is designed from the ground up to address the challenges and needs of the visually impaired allowing them to become parts of the new digital society and benefit from the rich ecosystems of products and services being offered via mobile devices that has become the main focus for most industries, including the financial services sector.

Research shows that the key barrier of touch screen for the visually impaired is the lack of physical touch, like buttons. This leads to an inability to interact with the touch-based user interface, determine the current state of the program and locate items on the screen. We have overcome that barrier by creating a virtual sense of touch with haptic feedbacks, using voice to help determine states of the program, and eliminating the need to locate any object on the screen. K PLUS Beacon also employs specially designed menu systems and screen flows that are simplified, minimal and sight independent.

The Outcome

Initially, K PLUS Beacon has been pilot launched since December 2017 allowing customers to register at 5 limited branches which saw continuous growth in the active user rate to 64 percent, number of transactions to 31 percent, and transaction volume to 59 percent MoM from the start1, K PLUS Beacon will soon be launched full-scale to our customers nationwide by end of year 2018 with over 185,000 registered visually impaired individuals2. Through our relationship with the Thailand Association of the Blind, we plan to further the engagement from national level down to the local level of the visually impaired communities such as schools and other related organizations. This is a stepping stone to reach our mission of financial inclusion, and demonstrate our commitment that “KBank leaves no one behind”.

1 Performance as of Dec 2017 – Mar 2018
2 Department of Empowerment of Person with Disabilities