A “cash-lite” approach is being undertaken in Seychelles to ensure that specific groups of the population that are less adaptable to change and rely heavily on cash are provided with a payment option.
CBS said that this is being done until such time that digital alternatives are significantly introduced and adopted and confidently being used in the market.
“Moving digital can bring many benefits to the market, including increasing the transparency of payments or transactions. CBS is, therefore, focused on creating a conducive environment that will increase the offering and further adoption of digital financial solutions that are convenient, affordable, reliable, efficient and safe, as well as meet the needs of the population, inclusive of vulnerable groups,” said CBS.
This is being implemented under the National Payment System Modernisation Plan and Seychelles Fintech Strategy.
The chairperson of the Seychelles Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (SABVI), Brigitte Lablache, told SNA that going digital is good and that she is already doing it but there are disadvantages.
“For example, at the moment I can send my carer or anyone else to the shop and give that person cash but I don’t feel at ease to give my card and pin number to just anybody to purchase goods for me at the shop. So, this is a disadvantage if I can’t go to the shop by myself,” she said.
She said that this is shared by others who “will not trust someone else with their ATM card. They will give someone a SCR500 note and when the person returns with the change, they will know how much money has been returned, but with cards, we don’t have control. Already there are people who are being robbed,” said Lablache.
She said, however, that she can operate the ATM machine well.
“I enter my pin number properly by myself, I get my landmark with the number 5 on the ATM machine which has a small dot on it. This is how I know where the other numbers are. My sense of touch is good, but people who have lost their vision at a later age, especially diabetic people, do not have a good sense of touch. They face many difficulties to operate that machine,” she explained.
She is suggesting that banks make available ATM machines with bigger keys for the benefit of people who have difficulty to touch.
With regards to the limitations of the disabled to have access to smartphones that can help the visually impaired to read, SABVI is trying to obtain some of those phones.
“The challenge remains because some people are not willing to embark on this digital journey. I suggest that we don’t discontinue the use of cash but encourage people to go cashless and at the same time leave space for people who are unable to use the electronic system,” said Lablache.
Moving forward from the perspective of CBS, cash is likely to remain an important part of the global and domestic financial system. However, given the move towards a cash-lite economy, disincentives to using cash may be introduced to encourage the population to use digital payment options.
Nevertheless, the latter will only be implemented once CBS has observed sufficient alternatives to cash in the market. Consideration will also be given to the vulnerable groups in terms of engaging with them to better understand the challenges they face and introducing more products and services with features tailored to their specificities and needs to ensure inclusivity.
Alongside these efforts, emphasis will be placed on increasing targeted financial education, particularly digital financial literacy, to enhance awareness of the benefits of using digital payment services, taking into account the specificity of the respective segments.
The Elderly and Disabled Division of the government supports the disabled with regard to digital inclusivity.
The division has had several meetings with the Central Bank and the Seychelles Bankers’ Association (SBA) to bring forth the various concerns of the disabled themselves and organisations affiliated with persons with disabilities.
“The various banks are being encouraged to put in place services that facilitate the lives of persons with disabilities,” said EED.
According to the CBS, there are ongoing engagements with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Family through the Elderly and Disabled Division to ensure that the vulnerable groups of the population are not excluded from the financial system.
“Several meetings have been organised to gather information and better understand the challenges encountered by this segment when it comes to accessing the financial system and using financial services and products. Engagements are ongoing with the various financial institutions where the data collected is being shared and analysed to better understand the demographics and needs of the vulnerable groups,” said CBS.
This will assist the different partners and institutions in identifying areas to best channel resources that will address their respective challenges.
In relation to the dependency of the blind and visually impaired on other people, which makes them more prone to being robbed, CBS states that “while appropriate frameworks are needed to ensure the timely identification and mitigation of such risks, the move towards increased digitalisation presents many opportunities to protect vulnerable groups, including the visually impaired.”
In a broader sense, some of the initiatives that have been undertaken to cater to some of the vulnerable groups include talking ATMs provided by some banks, the availability of instructions in the Creole language on some ATMs, and 24-hour call centres offered by some banks providing direct contact in case of emergencies or guidance required for a product or service.
In some banks, there is also a fast-track lane or appointment facility to limit the time that the elderly group or people with a disability have to spend at the bank, especially for services that require some formalities.
Digital financial literacy sessions have also been organised for different vulnerable groups focussing on cyber risks, frauds, and preventive measures to be taken to ensure the safe use of digital means of payments, emphasising the importance of adopting such security measures.