In order to improve the access to banking services by the elderly and the disabled, the Banking Regulation and Supervision Authority (the “BRSA“) published the Regulation on Accessibility of Banking Services on June 18, 2016. Banks must bring their existing services and activities into compliance with the regulation by January 1, 2018; new services offered after January 1, 2017 must comply with this regulation.
What the regulation says
• As a general rule, Turkish banks are required to design and provide their services in consideration of people with disabilities, and provide the necessary training for the personnel providing services to people with disabilities.
• Banks are required to document their customers’ particular disabilities and furnish pertinent information and services depending on said disabilities.
• All informative signs within bank branches and ATMs must be clear and legible with sufficiently large fonts and lighting.
• Agreements provided by banks on their websites must be accompanied by audio and sign language videos interpreting the written agreement. Furthermore, banks must provide alternative access methods to ensure accessibility to agreements, banks statements, password and other services through audio, sign language, and braille.
• All accessibility services must be free of charge. People with disabilities must be able to check their debit and credit card balance, draw and deposit money, and pay their credit card debt free of charge in all banks’ ATMs in Turkey.
• ATMs must have (i) visible screens with optimum brightness and contrast settings; (ii) keyboards designed in accordance with telephone standards while providing sufficient space to ensure differentiability by visually impaired people; (iii) designs ensuring easy access to insert a card and deposit and draw money along with earphone support; and (iv) sufficient systems to ensure information security for people with disabilities.
• Two out of 100 ATMs operated by a bank must provide easy access to wheelchair users.
• All ATMs operated by a bank must be easily operated by visually impaired people through braille and audio. In particular, visually impaired people must be able to check their debit and credit card balance, draw and deposit money and pay their credit card debt through audio. However, as of June 18, 2016, ATMs providing braille signage, as well as other ATMs within 50-meter radius of another ATM with visually impaired access services, are exempt from this requirement.
• Banks must provide priority service to the people with disabilities in their branches while ensuring that the disabled can access services without aid from any other third parties.
• Visually impaired people must be permitted to execute an agreement after being properly informed of the terms and rights of the agreement. Banks’ branches must either employ one person who can speak in sign language within the branch or provide sign language services through real time video.
• Banks must notify their visually impaired customers via audio supported text message following any online transactions or a transaction carried out in an ATM that does not provide audio access services.
• Banks must communicate with their visually impaired customers via audio supported text message when they engage in internet and mobile banking services, such as one-time password creation.
• Banks must provide an alternative to call centers for their customers to create and change their passwords in order to adequately service people who are hard of hearing.
• Banks offering call center services must provide an online solution to people who are hard of hearing.
Following the implementation of the main pillars of Basel III, the BRSA has shifted its focus, addressing the banking service accessibility issues faced by people with disabilities. Although these rules may require banks to increase their spending in order to comply with new industry standards and provide in-house accessibility services, the BRSA has taken a vital step in ensuring the inclusion of all people in easy accessibility to banking services.