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ASIC supports submission responding to Department of Finance consultation- Balancing Oversight and Innovation in the Ways We Pay

Posted in News Bytes

June 5, 2015

Lisa Pezzack
Financial Sector Policy Branch
Department of Finance Canada
90 Elgin Street, 13th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1A 0G5

Via e-mail:

Re: Balancing Oversight and Innovation in the Ways We Pay

Dear Ms. Pezzack:

On behalf of CNIB and the individuals/organizations cited herein, please find
our response to the Department of Finance’s recent call for consultation on
“Balancing Oversight and Innovation” in the ways we pay.

This submission has been prepared by CNIB with invaluable suggestions,
comments and input from both individuals as well as organizations
representing Canadians who are blind or those who are living with significant
vision loss. We are grateful to Mr. Chris Stark of Ottawa for his insights and
suggestions which have helped make this a stronger document. Mr. Stark
has played a significant role in advocating for Canadians living with vision
loss for many years. We would also like to recognize the contribution of Mr.
Craig Nicol of Toronto. Mr. Nicol is an active member of the Canadian
Standards Association, providing input into the standards cited in this
document. Mr. Barry Abbott of Halifax has also contributed to this document.
In addition, the following organizations of persons who are blind support the
recommendations made herein:

Access for Sight Impaired Consumers

Alberta Society for the Visually Impaired

Guide Dog Users of Canada

Regroupement des aveugles et amblyopes du Québec

One of Canada’s oldest charities, CNIB passionately provides community-
based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure Canadians who are
blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully
participate in life.

To do that, our dedicated specialists work with people of all ages in their
own homes, communities or local CNIB offices – providing the personalized

rehabilitation support they need to see beyond vision loss, build their
independence and lead the lives they want.

In addition to our community-based services, we also work alongside
Canadians who are blind or partially sighted to advocate for a barrier-free
society, and we strive to eliminate avoidable sight loss with world-class
research and by promoting the importance of vision health through public

Canada is facing a growing yet preventable crisis in vision health. A
demographic shift caused by our ageing population has led to a mounting
epidemic of vision loss and a growing human and resource crisis in vision
health care. The population of Canadians 65 and older is expected to double
in the next 25 years. Coupled with the increasing incidence of key underlying
causes of vision loss, such as obesity and diabetes, the number of Canadians
living with sight loss is expected to dramatically increase over the same
period. In fact, by 2024, the prevalence of vision loss in Canada is expected
to increase by nearly 30 per cent.

Over the past years there has been progress made with respect to the
accessibility of financial services for Canadians living with vision loss. The
recent introduction of Canada’s new polymer bank notes1 and the availability
of talking bill identifiers represented milestone improvements. Many of
Canada’s federally regulated financial institutions have been providing
alternate format statements (braille, large print and accessible electronic
documents) for more than 15 years. As well, the majority of chartered banks
continue to deploy accessible automated banking machines and many
organizations have begun to recognize the importance of creating accessible
websites. While these developments have had a positive impact on the
ability of Canadians living with vision loss to independently manage their
financial affairs, Canada’s payment system has yet to experience an equally
dramatic shift towards accessibility.

1. Three key elements in the polymer notes are designed to help blind and partially-sighted Canadians recognize bank
note denominations by touch (tactile feature), sight (large numerals) or electronic signal (bank note reader).

As cited in the supporting material to this public consultation, cash is no
longer a dominant payment method. Debit/credit cards have gained ground
in the retail sector with a rapid divergence of payment methods on the

In Canada today there are no regulations governing point-of-sale terminals.2
Touchscreen technology is becoming more prevalent and at the same time
the interfaces on these terminals are becoming increasingly complex.

Unfortunately, a complete absence of any accessibility features for these or
other emerging payment systems creates significant challenges for
Canadians living with vision loss. The result is for individuals unable to
independently interact with these devices; they must turn to strangers in
order to complete even the most basic of transactions. Although we have no
evidence of persons with vision loss being victimised by having to rely on
perfect strangers to complete purchases, this is clearly unacceptable as well
as a contravention of most consumer debit and credit card agreements.

2 – retrieved May 2015

See annex 2, Regulatory landscape- Payment Cards Act.


In 2014, CNIB and the Neil Squire Society provided responses to the
Financial Consumer Protection Framework consultation.3 The Neil Squire
Society focused on the impacts on persons with mobility, cognitive and
hearing disabilities, while CNIB focused on the impacts for individuals with
vision loss. In our submission, CNIB provided seven recommendations which
if implemented would improve the security, confidence and accessibility of
financial management and interactions to Canadians living with vision loss.

These recommendations were:

1. Financial statements must be made available in alternate formats such
as braille, large print or accessible electronic documents;
2. Websites, online payment systems and mobile payment apps must be
made accessible to people relying on assistive technology such as
screen readers, refreshable braille displays or large print;
3. Point of sale terminals must enable consumers with vision loss to
complete transactions independently and they must be able to verify
their purchase amounts;
4. Automated Banking/Teller machines need to be accessible by persons
with vision loss;
5. Financial institutions operating retail outlets must be accessible to all
persons with disabilities including those with vision loss;
6. Frontline and customer contact centre representatives should receive
adequate training on how to best serve customers with disabilities;

7. A consumer code must include rules and guidelines which protect the
interest of and insure the full participation of Canadians with

While we continue to stand behind all seven of these recommendations, for
the purposes of this consultation we would like to strongly reiterate
recommendations two and three. This paper will focus its comments on
individuals living with vision loss and accommodations required for their
inclusion and benefit. However, it is imperative that accessibility for all
Canadians regardless of disability be an integral part of the conversation
being initiated by Finance Canada.

Recommendation: The need for accessible online and mobile payment

Accessible systems are those which are usable by the largest number of
people regardless of how they interact with them. People with vision loss
rely on a variety of techniques and assistive technologies to either enlarge
the text on their systems – large print – or to have the information spoken
aloud using synthetic text-to-speech software. While these two subgroups
represent the vast majority of technologies regularly used by individuals
living with vision loss, there are other devices – refreshable braille displays –
most commonly used by people who are both deaf and blind.4

4 – retrieved May 2015

5 – retrieved May 2015

Online payment systems

The guidelines and standards – WCAG or Web Content Accessibility
Guidelines – required to make online payment systems accessible are robust
and have kept pace with each iteration of HTML, the language web browsers
use to display content. These guidelines are maintained by the World Wide
Web Consortium, an international community which maintains some of the
standards pertaining to how internet applications and content work.5 Online
payment systems adhering to these standards will go a long way to
maximize the accessibility for all Canadians, especially those who rely on
assistive technology. As with many disability accommodations, the benefit of
adhering to WCAG is that this adherence leads to a product that has
increased usefulness for a broader range of users. WCAG-adherent products

better serve and benefit both Canadians with vision loss as well as the
broader community – an effect often referred to as the ’disability dividend’.

To better understand the reach and benefit of accessibility guidelines, one
need only consider automatic doors, kneeling buses, ramps and cut curbs.
Initially designed to increase accessibility for persons using mobility devices,
today these accommodations are common place and facilitate access for the
general public. Yet another example is the availability of closed captioning,
now available with practically every television program. Again, this
accommodation initially intended to enable persons who were deaf to have
access to mainstream programming, but now enables viewers without
hearing loss to consume media produced in languages other than their
mother tongue. Accommodations such as these have become the norm
across the country, integrating WCAG guidelines into web and online app
development is the next logical step in ensuring Canada is an accessible
country for all its citizens and visitors. Indeed, failing to integrate
accessibility into online systems and mobile apps would only further
marginalize Canadians living with vision loss.

Mobile devices as payment methods

Android and iOS, the operating systems which lie at the core of Google and
Apple mobile devices, offer extensive guidelines on how to design and build
applications which can be used by people living with vision loss. As the
number of mobile devices available to Canadians continues to grow, it is
extremely likely that mobile payment apps will continue to become more
prevalent. The need for standards to make these devices accessible to
people having diverse needs is becoming more and more glaring. These
standards do exist with many mainstream manufacturers of mobile devices
(for example, Apple, Android, and Black Berry)6, yet are far too often
ignored; this willful disregard of the standards must cease.

6 retrieved
May 2015 Microsoft guide on testing for accessibility

Recommendation: The need for accessible point of sale terminals

In taxis, at coffee shops, movie theatres, and grocery stores, inaccessible
point of sale terminals (POS) are becoming increasingly prevalent. Even

POSs distributed under the auspices of Canadian chartered banks fail to
incorporate any accessibility guidelines. Making matters worse is the
proliferation of white-label terminals in the POS market. These devices are
operated by commercial enterprises independent of chartered banks and are
thereby at the periphery of Canada’s consumer protection regulatory
framework. This results in a growing number of completely inaccessible
devices entering Canada’s payment system market place, which serves only
to increase the barriers faced by Canadians who have vision loss as well as
other disabilities.

A POS is rendered inaccessible through the combination of a lack of
standardization around its development, coupled with an absence of
accommodation features. Few POS devices adopt similar command
sequences; the order of interactions with them varies between manufacturer
and distributer. Thus, particularly for consumers who are blind or deafblind,
completing a transaction often requires having a stranger assist with
entering a Personal Identification Number, or PIN. Not only does this place
consumers with vision loss at increased risk of fraud should their PIN be
accessed by others; but it contravenes the terms and conditions of service
issued when debit/credit cards are issued – that the holder of such cards is
required to keep their PIN confidential. This also means individuals living
with vision loss are unable to verify the amount being charged to their debit
or credit cards. When relying on another person to verify a transaction, it is
far too easy for errors to be made. Without the ability to independently
verify transactions, consumers with vision loss may only discover these
errors long after they have completed their transaction and must then go
through a time-consuming dispute process

In today’s retail market, self-serve kiosks are becoming increasingly
common place. Despite the presence of voice output on some of these
terminals, they are for the most part of little use to Canadians with vision
loss. The need to interact with the terminal via touchscreen technology and
the absence of full speech output likens these devices to the early versions
of automated banking machines which had braille on the keypad but no
speech or large print output.

CSA Group standards regarding accessible POSs and kiosks have existed
since 2007.7 CSA standards are recognized around the world, are developed

7 retrieved May 2015

This Standard specifies requirements for making electronic (including electro-mechanical) and mechanical self-
service interactive devices accessible to and usable by people with a range of physical, sensory, and cognitive

disabilities. It has been developed to fulfill an expressed need for a national technical Standard covering a broad
range of interactive devices.

by subject matter experts and are reviewed periodically. Most importantly,
the standards are developed at arm’s length from manufacturers and are
designed to have the broadest possible reach when implemented. We believe
that were these standards to be adhered to within the POS landscape,
Canadians with vision loss would no longer risk having their security and
privacy compromised by having to rely on others for assistance.

We realize that much needs to take place before widespread deployment of
accessible POSs takes place. In the interim, we believe that a POS should
adhere to the following:

1. Keyboards MUST have real buttons, rather than touchscreen keys;
2. Pushing a button MUST generate a confirmation beep, and the volume
of this beep should be adjustable, and this function must not have a
deactivation option;
3. The number “5” button MUST have a raised dot, and the “OK” button
MUST have a raised circle;
4. Usage methods MUST be standardized, from the order of operations to
the placement of buttons on the keyboard;
5. Visual displays must provide adequate contrast and stylized fonts must
be avoided.

We would like to reiterate that the above are the absolute minimum required
for Canadians with vision loss to be able to independently and with a modest
degree of confidence complete transactions using a POS device.

As with design standards for online payment systems and mobile apps, the
‘disability dividend’ for POS devices would extend far beyond the community
of individuals living with vision loss. The ease of completing POS transactions
in poorly lit environments, requiring a consistent transaction interface and
eliminating touchscreen devices are only a few examples of how adherence
to CSA standards would benefit all and not just those who are part of the
vision loss community. Implementation of accessibility standards would not
be unprecedented. In fact, the Canadian Transportation Agency has already
tasked airline and terminal operators to have accessible self-serve kiosks in
place by December 2016.8

Finance Canada Consultation

As individuals who are blind or organizations of the blind, our ability to
comment on the questions set out in this consultation is limited only to areas
around vision loss. Thus, the comments above and the following discussion
is limited strictly to the impact we perceive on Canadians with vision loss.

Question: Are the identified risks posed by “national retail payment systems”
comprehensive. Should other risks be included?

Response: Although the consultation paper speaks at length to risks facing
the Canadian payment system, we would like to suggest that more research
be undertaken to better understand the risks facing consumers living with
vision loss. As referenced earlier in this response, the number of Canadians
living with vision loss is set to increasingly expand in the very near future.
As such, accommodations made to better and more efficiently serve the
vision loss community are becoming more and more essential.

Canada must strive to best serve all its citizens, especially those who are
living with a disability or otherwise marginalized. No system, irrespective of
how well designed or accessible, will completely eliminate all risks. However
a complete absence of the consideration of the needs of vulnerable
populations is definitely not the answer.

Question: Are there other measures that should be considered to address
these risks?

Response: In short, yes. Standards for accessibility have existed for many
years but adoption and adherence is sparse at best. CNIB would welcome a
payment system that’s fully accessible without compromising consumer
protection. New technologies should not be adopted simply because they
exist. Rather, leading edge technology and accessibility should be at the
forefront of Canada’s payment system. Institutional stakeholders must be
held accountable to ensure that only systems and devices usable by the
largest number of Canadians make their way into the payment system

Question: Should oversight be based on a functional approach, where risks
are assessed by payment activity and treated similarly regardless of the

Response: Focusing only on the consumer side of the equation, a functional
approach would insure the greatest level of inclusion for all Canadians. In

other words, the current system does little to protect consumers, maximize
efficiencies and provide retailers with cost effectiveness. The proliferation of
payment solutions does not mean that all should be present in the
marketplace. A better approach would be imposing well-defined, well-
researched and regularly updated standards against which all payment
systems in Canada must be measured. These standards, including those
dealing with accessibility, should form the measurement against which
current and future retail payment systems are evaluated and embraced.

Question: What should be the key priority areas in developing oversight for
retail payment systems?

Response: We strongly suggest that accessibility for Canadians with vision
loss must be an integral component of Canada’s retail payment system. It is
abundantly clear that guidelines are not adequate as they are rarely and
inconsistently adopted. The US has witnessed landmark legislation, with the
21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, being the most
recent example.9 This legislation, passed in 2010, requires that accessibility
be incorporated into emerging technology.

9 – retrieved
May 2015

The CVAA follows a string of laws, passed in the 1980s and 1990s that were designed to ensure that telephone and
television services would be accessible to all Americans with disabilities. But these laws were not able to keep up
with the fast paced technological changes that our society has witnessed over the past decade.

We do not wish to suggest that Canada needs to resort to legislation to
resolve challenges around disability issues such as access to retail payment
systems. Rather, we suggest that stakeholders in the Canadian payment
system be supported – if not strongly encouraged – to do a better job of
taking into account the needs of all consumers, including those living with
vision loss or other disabilities.

Question: Through what form of arrangement(s) should oversight be
implemented (e.g., legislation, code of conduct)?

Response: We strongly believe that a retail payment system code of conduct
which facilitates accessibility is the most effective vehicle to achieve full
inclusion. The retail payment system code of conduct should be mandatory,
fully transparent and must include provisions whereby its effectiveness can
be measured. Precedence for such a code of conduct already exists within
the Canadian regulatory landscape. The Canadian Transportation Agency has
established mechanisms by which airlines and terminal operators are held to

measure when serving travellers with disabilities.10 At the same time, a
robust and effective dispute mechanism should be implemented. Precedence
for this mechanism also exists within the Canadian regulatory framework;
specifically the Canadian Transportation Agency and the Canadian Radio and
Television Commission. In this instance, we believe this dispute-resolution
body should reside directly with Finance Canada, which would ensure that
the organization would be at arm’s length from financial institutions,
payment processing organizations, retailers and manufacturers of POSs. We
also recommend echoing the approach adopted by the Canadian
Transportation Agency, which would include the establishment of an
advisory committee with membership from financial institutions, retailers,
payment processers, terminal manufacturers and Canadians with disabilities.

Fundamental amongst the responsibilities of such a body must be the ability
to track and report on complaints, especially those brought forward by
Canadians with disabilities.

10 ttps://

Today, no effective mechanisms are in place to protect Canadians with vision
loss should they choose to seek remedies under Canada’s Human Rights
legislation. The shortcoming of Canada’s provincial jurisdiction with respect
to human rights is that complaints are binding only on the parties directly
involved in a complaint. Thus, in order to insure that accessible POS
terminals and online payment systems be made accessible through human
rights challenges, Canadians with vision loss or other disabilities would be
required to bring complaints against every POS manufacturer/distributor
operating in the Canadian market place. Even more significant is that any
resolutions obtained through the human rights complaints would have no
bearing on new entrants into the payment services arena.

Should the mandatory code of conduct not be widely embraced, a discussion
around transforming the code of conduct into legislation would be
appropriate. We would, however, hope this would be unnecessary as
institutional stakeholders begin to realize the benefits of standardization that
includes accessibility at its core.


Amidst the rapid deployment of innovative transaction processing solutions
is a looming social epidemic. With an ageing society, the numbers of

Canadians who develop a disability will be at an all-time high and these
individuals will come from every walk of life and economic background.

At the same time, Canada’s retail payment systems are lagging when it
comes to delivering equitable access to this growing segment of society.
Canadians with vision loss are significantly marginalized with respect to their
security and dignity when participating in activities of daily life. Requiring
customers with vision loss to disclose personal identification numbers and
denying them the ability to verify transactions is simply not acceptable.

The regulatory landscape throughout Canada continues to shift. Nova Scotia,
Ontario and British Columbia have committed to or have passed into law
legislation which speaks directly to the need to ensure that the barriers
facing citizens with disabilities are mitigated. On a national level, Canada has
ratified the Charter of Rights for Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which
speaks directly to accessibility of information communication technologies.11

With this ratification, Canada has laid the groundwork for legislation, should
it be required, to ensure that Canadians with vision loss are no longer
excluded from receiving the benefits and advantages garnered through
emerging technologies.

11 retrieved May 2015

To enable persons with disabilities to live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life, States Parties
shall take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the
physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and
communications technologies and systems, and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both
in urban and in rural areas. These measures, which shall include the identification and elimination of obstacles and
barriers to accessibility, shall apply to, inter alia …

Article 9.2.B: Ensure that private entities that offer facilities and services which are open or provided to the public
take into account all aspects of accessibility for persons with disabilities.

We realize that considerable work is necessary before accessible payment
and online systems become common place. However this consultation is the
opportunity for Finance Canada, industry and the disability community to
collaborate towards finding a solution which will meet the needs of every
Canadian including those living with vision loss or those with other
disabilities. We would be pleased to continue this discussion in order that a
timely, equitable efficient and accessible solution can be found.