Digital Banking With Neurodiversity Functionality Supports Member Inclusivity 

illustration colorful heads brains
By Denny Howell

4 minutes

Using inclusive technology allows credit unions to increase member engagement and better deliver exceptional service to all their members.

The credit union philosophy is largely driven by the idea of “people helping people” with a focus on promoting the well-being of every member. However, when it comes to the digital banking experience of most credit unions, there is room to grow in terms of accessibility and inclusivity. Several members may experience some form of neurodiversity that affects the ways they interact with digital platforms, and yet this is often unaccounted for within most banking technology.

Neurodiversity refers to differences in the ways the brain processes information and how this leads to cognitive distinctions within individuals. Failure to incorporate neurodiversity-accommodating features into banking applications often leads to inconsistent digital experiences for these members.

According to the National Library of Medicine, approximately 15-20% of the world’s population lives with some form of a neurodiverse condition (i.e., autism spectrum disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, etc.). A significant segment of the population also experiences disabilities such as color blindness, visual impairments and epilepsy.

Statistics for the number of individuals considered to be neurodivergent or experiencing the above-mentioned disabilities include: 

  • Around 50 million people worldwide experience epilepsy, making it one of the most common neurological diseases globally.
  • In 2023, the CDC reported that approximately 1 in 36 children in the U.S. is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, according to 2020 data.
  • Dyslexia affects roughly 15 to 20% of the population and represents 80 to 90% of all of those with learning disabilities.
  • More than 9.4% of children (6.1 million) between ages 2 to 17 in the U.S. have an ADHD diagnosis. ADHD is more prevalent in children than adults, with about 9.4% of children having a current diagnosis compared to 4.4% of adults.
  • An estimated 300 million people in the world experience color vision deficiency or color blindness.
  • Globally, at least 2.2 billion people have some form of vision impairment.

To pave the way for stronger member inclusivity, digital banking platforms can be re-engineered to deliver neurodiverse functionalities to improve accessibility and better accommodate the cognitive needs of all credit union members. Mahalo has created a system that offers the features and functionalities described in this article.

What a Next-Gen Digital Banking Platform Can Offer

Digital banking can include tailored user configurations that can meet a wide range of member needs, such as colorblindness platform views, font options for those with dyslexia or visual impairments, and the ability to disable animations for those with epilepsy. Users with dyslexia or visual impairments can access different font options to improve text visibility. Left- and right-hand modes, which shift the side on which buttons are located to improve ease of use for mobile users, are also possible. In addition, anxiety-reducing functionality. For example, when members have multiple accounts with the CU, they have the ability to “favorite” accounts for a seamless quick view that allows users to avoid constant scrolling to find what they need, which may be anxiety-inducing to some, to find the info they need. The system also enables animations to be disabled, which can help certain members. In all, these features are designed to ensure that every member receives the same digital banking experience, regardless of their cognitive distinctions.

The neurodiverse functionality options are merely the first step in what can be done to embed greater inclusivity into an online banking solution! Mahalo continues to add and refine features with neurodiversity in mind.

Why This Tech Matters for the Credit Union Industry

While the world continues to move online, up to 20% of consumers have been unable to fully use existing online banking solutions. Such digital limitations can leave some members feeling forgotten and marginalized. 

With the need for digital self-service options on the rise, many consumers are selecting financial institution partners based on the digital banking experience they offer. By enabling flexible functionality that addresses the needs of all members, credit unions can remove any potential barriers to a pleasant digital banking experience due to a member’s physical or neurological condition. Eliminating any platform restraints will ultimately lead to increased member usage and allow credit unions to improve communication with their members when sharing relevant messages.

Leveraging a platform with neurodiverse functionality will enable credit unions to better retain, attract and gain members who will now be able to enjoy a highly accessible and user-friendly digital banking experience. The use of inclusive technology also allows credit unions to increase opportunities for member engagement and continue to deliver upon the philosophy of “people helping people” to all their members.

Denny Howell is co-founder/COO of Mahalo Banking, a credit union service organization that provides online and mobile banking solutions for credit unions. He is an experienced entrepreneurial industry leader with a demonstrated 20-plus year history of working in technology, financial services and fintech. Howell also is skilled in analytics, strategy, UX, online and mobile banking, agile and process improvements, and project management.

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