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Cash is a straightforward tool that doesn’t discriminate against its users. Everybody understands it: children and illiterate adults; rich and poor; tourists and citizens. Cash can be used in the Russian tundra, on the ice packs of Greenland or in the heart of Manhattan.
Today, cash can confidently be used by 91.5% of the world population. This estimate is based on WHO’s Global Data on Visual Impairments of 2010. This does not mean that the visually-impaired don’t’ make use of banknotes in their daily transactions. On the contrary, these users have proven their ingenuity by developing a number of tricks to recognize one denomination from the other. But a weak link does currently exist making it sometimes difficult for users with impairments to quickly and assuredly differentiate banknotes.
Following numerous requests from central banks, SICPA decided to tackle this problem by launching a comprehensive study on the needs of this particular group of users. In 2015, working closely with a number of associations and in collaboration with a design studio specialized in Universal Design, SICPA launched a project to make banknotes assuredly the most accessible payment method.
The design methodology, research processes and study findings of this initiative were published and shared with the banknote industry in 2017 in two publications: Identification of banknotes by the visually impaired by design studioDEMAIN, and Banknotes For All by SICPA. The findings led to the development of an intuitive tactile system composed of dots, dashes and lines that convey a logical scale of values, making it easy to learn and effective to use for banknote identification.