Why we are campaigning
Technology plays an ever-increasing role in our modern society and often offers many advantages. However, there are also downsides. Payment terminals, such as the devices used in shops and restaurants when paying by card or the built-in payment devices in ticketing machines used for public transport, are often inaccessible to millions of disabled and elderly consumers in Europe. The barriers faced are many and consist, among others, of problems typing in the code due to the small keypad, difficulties in hearing the sounds coming from the payment terminal in for example a busy store and difficulties in reading the small letters on the screen. The privacy of these consumers is often compromised as they need the shop assistant to help them to enter the code, leaving them more vulnerable to fraud and theft. This is a serious problem as Europe is heading in the direction of a cash-free society, where most payments will be made by card or through a contactless mobile phone payment. In a civilized world, it is not acceptable to exclude people from carrying out their payment transactions independently. There are 80 million people with disabilities and close to 100 million elderly people in Europe. If Europe wants to become a fully inclusive society, financial inclusion is key.
The problem can be solved. Payment terminals could for example be equipped with audio output, a screen with more contrast and larger fonts and fixed places for the keys. Innovative ways of interacting with a payment terminal, for example through Bluetooth or Near Field Communication (NFC), could be part of the solution.
EBU is pleased to participate in Pay-Able, a platform that strives for barrier free access to payment terminals for all. The initiative, a cross-sectoral, single-issue European platform is supported by all European consumer associations. Pay-Able is under the high patronage of Mr Herman Van Rompuy, President Emeritus of the European Council.
On Wednesday 22 June 2016 MEP Ádám Kósa hosted the official launch event of Pay-Able in the European Parliament in Brussels. Mr Kósa highlighted the need for an inclusive society while drawing on his own experiences. “It is not my deafness that causes problems for me, it is society who treats it as a problem” he told the audience. Mr Mokrane Boussaïd, Executive Director of the European Blind Union, also stressed the importance of inclusive payment terminals noting that “from a blind or partially sighted person's perspective, there are significant accessibility and security concerns when making a payment transaction via a terminal”.
Design for All
Pay-Able believes that payment terminals should be designed following the principle of Design for All. Design for All is about design for human diversity, social inclusion and equality. It is a concept of designing products that are easy to understand and usable by everyone to the greatest extent possible. This ensures that everyone, including disabled and elderly consumers, has barrier free access to payment terminals.
To Pay-Able it is clear that an accessibility standard for user-friendly payment terminals is needed for all European citizens to become Pay-Able!
The current situation
4/10/2018 - European Accessibility Act
In December 2015, the European Commission published its proposal for a European Accessibility Act (EAA). In the original proposal for the EAA, payment terminals were not included in the scope. On September 14, 2017 however, the European Parliament voted in favour of the inclusion of payment terminals in the EAA, to the delight of the Pay-Able platform. Read a summary of EP’s position.
The Council’s General Agreement, adopted on 7 December 2017, is also to include payment terminals in the EAA. So, the prospects are good, assuming that the EAA will be effectively adopted before the European elections of 2019 – which is not certain as trilogue negotiations are currently blocked by the Council’s difficulty to agree its negotiating position on other issues about the scope of the EAA (see the EAA Campaign).
The Pay-Able consortium is closely monitoring the developments on the EAA. Besides having payment terminals in the scope of the EAA, a concern is the general approach taken of allowing a parallel usage of accessible and inaccessible products until the end of their lifespan, because blind and partially sighted persons are unable to independently differentiate between an accessible ATM and an inaccessible one.
In the coming years, Pay-Able will keep working to advocate for barrier free access to payment terminals for all. In part, by trying to influence the decision making process regarding the EAA. Furthermore, Pay-Able will be engaging in a dialogue with manufacturers of payment terminals.