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Adapting Technology for the Uneducated

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In recent times access to financial products for those who had none has been greatly possible due to the growing reach of digital products. Various digital products on offer have made it possible to reach faraway places where conventional banking had limited or no reach at all. All this made the financial inclusion of the poor far more possible than before; yet challenges remain.

UNESCO estimates the worldwide illiterate population at almost 800 million. The presence of extreme illiteracy has been cited as a major hurdle to the expanding financial inclusion across areas where the services are urgently needed. There are two fold problems with illiteracy. Firstly, people who have little understanding of how to read or write will find it impossible to understand digital transactions.  Secondly, the segment that doesn’t understand these services will be less likely to trust the solutions on offer, limiting a viable access to financial products.

In order to be successful new digital products must be streamlined according to the circumstances and capabilities of the target audience. For this to be a reality a concerted effort has to be made in order to include illiterate segment at the center of the design process. As more often than not researchers devise solutions that are based on technology that is either not accessible to the illiterate segment or if available the use of gadgets that will not be possible for the target segment to use i.e use of iPhone in   Woldmariam et al. research proposing a new interface.

Images or photographs showing how to use a device can prove highly effective as they leave little room for miscommunication. At the end of the day improving financial inclusion and building trust through technology is a human challenge, requiring the user interface designers to take into account the availability of appropriate technology and the technological ability of the target population.

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