Accessible banking

We recognise that our customers’ individual needs are different. We aim to make banking as accessible as possible for everyone, offering our customers the ability to choose from a variety of digital, face-to-face, and remote options. During 2022, we had 8.9million(*) customers actively use our mobile app and 3.8million(*) use our online banking platform.

(*) Within the scope of EY assurance. Refer to page 70 of 2022 ESG Supplement

‘As a relationship bank for a digital world, our vision is to create an accessible bank by design.’

Oliver Holbourn, CEO of RBS International and executive sponsor for Enable, our disability employee-led network

Digital accessibility

In May 2022, for Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Oliver Holbourn (CEO of RBS International and executive sponsor for Enable, our disability employee-led network) and the Group ExCo agreed to an aspiration to embed accessibility practices across our franchises and functions by the end of 2023. This aspiration was supported by forming a new central team to help drive our plans to practice digital accessibility as a fundamental part of how we deliver digital customer interactions. We continue to learn in this space - as role modelled by our executives to learn and act on International Day of Persons with a Disability (IDPD).

Our digital channels are continually updating to help us become more disability inclusive and we continue to strive to design and build with reference to the latest version of the World Wide Consortium (W3C’s) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). For example, by writing simply and taking particular care with the use of colour and our tone of voice. We also consider the experience of those using screen readers and the speed of messages received through our chat bot, Cora.

We delivered a ‘tap to call’ feature in our mobile app which allows our customers to go through pre-identified to our telephony colleagues to discuss their current or business account, removing the barrier of remembering their banking details.

Payment limits give customers more control over their banking, which we know has been useful to those prone to impulsive spending. We also offer dark mode on our mobile app, improving accessibility for neurodiverse customers and those with low vision by reducing eyestrain. This feature has been widened into journeys connected to the mobile app.

Supporting customers in vulnerable situations

At any time, a customer may find themselves either in a vulnerable situation or caring for a vulnerable loved one. In 2022, the impacts on cost of living have meant that for many of our customers this has been a reality. To support with this, we set up a Customers in Vulnerable Situations Centre of Excellence. We continued to work with organisations such as GamCare and Citizens Advice to improve the support available to customers in vulnerable situations, connecting them to expert advice where appropriate. We continued to run digital lessons and fraud and scam awareness events remotely via virtual delivery. We also have dedicated teams available to support customers in Financial Difficulty. Dedicated Customer Protection Teams engage with customers at risk of harm and support them, leveraging external partnerships where there is a need for more specialist help. We also continued to work with HM’s Prison and Probation Service and the Scottish Prisons Service during 2022.

Choice of channel

We aim to make banking as accessible as possible, offering our customers the ability to choose from a variety of digital, remote and face-to-face options. We have over 700 branches and other physical points of presence, including our ATM network and our relationship with the Post Office. We have dedicated teams available on the phone to support customers with product applications and we retain our dedicated over 60s customer care line, which was set up during the pandemic to support people. We continue to offer mobile branches, allowing customers to do all their usual everyday banking, like making deposits, withdrawing cash and paying bills.

We have hearing loops in all our branches, which provide support for customers using hearing aids, by making speech clearer and more understandable. Also, thanks to our partnership with SignVideo, we now have a service that lets colleagues and customers communicate easily in-branch or via Zoom using sign language interpreter.

Our video banking service supports customers when they want the reassurance of a face-to-face conversation with our highly trained colleagues.

We offer customers who require additional support a range of accessibility services, such as accessible statements in braille, translation services, large print and audio CD.

BT’s Relay UK service also supports customers with hearing impairments through a type-to-talk service, while accessible card readers, rubber signature stamps, braille card wallets and our talking ATM service are other key accessibility features.

To support our customers’ needs, our property team are piloting individual sensory room settings with the ‘Dynamic Environments’ room setup in Milton Keynes, to explore the benefits of various lighting, colour intensity, scent and audio visual settings to personalise the environment to suit our customers. Further work to widen the pilot to another location is in progress, which will include soft seating, biophilia, tactile fidget items and other items to support ‘Calming’, ‘Focused’ and ‘Concentrating’ mood settings.

Financial inclusion

We know that access to a bank account is the first crucial step towards financial inclusion. It’s why we provide a personal basic current account to anyone who does not have one already. The account has no monthly fee and provides a debit card, access to digital banking services and everyday support such as text alerts to help customers manage their money. We currently have over 890,000 basic bank account customers with this number increasing. 

Understanding the customer experience using feedback

We recognise feedback from customers facing a variety of access needs, vulnerabilities and disabilities and review how to align our services to meet their requirements. To support this we have set up an Inclusive Design Panel to help us design services. The panel consists of external individuals, charities and subject matter experts with lived experience of different support needs – inclusive of people with disabilities.

We also use an inclusive design approach to service and design for the varying needs and disabilities of customers within our product and journey development. As an example, we have been on-site with disabled people this year learning more about how they access bank services digitally and conducting ‘empathy’ sessions utilising VR (virtual Reality) and other simulators to help change colleagues’ perspectives


For more details, please see our 2022 Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Supplement (PDF 9.6MB)

Related content

Read more about how we support  customers who find themselves either in a vulnerable situation or caring for a loved one experiencing a vulnerability.

Read more about our aim to champion the potential of people and families at every stage of their lives.

Read more about how we are continuing to innovate and accelerate our digital transformation.