Punjab National Bank Ltd. has become India’s first financial institution to offer credit cards to visually impaired customers, a spokesperson for the New Delhi-based bank tells PaymentsSource.

The bank has issued specific guidelines to accept card applications from visually impaired customers. Applicants must have had an account with the institution for at least six months and have a “satisfactory track record,” the spokesperson says. The bank will consider all applicants ages 18 to 65 who have a minimum of a 10th grade education and who possess a mobile phone that describes through a speaker what is written on the device’s screen, he adds.

After a merchant swipes the customer’s card, the bank will send a text message to the cardholder’s phone, which reads out the transaction details before the customer signs the sales slip authorizing the transaction, the spokesperson says. The bank previously launched this type of service for debit cards issued to the visually impaired.

Punjab National has pioneered the installation of ATMs for the disabled and visually impaired. In December, it announced plans to deploy biometric ATMs that do not require PINs and instead will allow access by reading users’ fingerprints, retinas and faces (see story). 

And in January, Mumbai-based State Bank of India Ltd. announced talks with NCR Corp. and Diebold Inc. about the possibility of them manufacturing 7,000 ATMs accessible by the visually impaired (see story). 

The Reserve Bank of India, the country’s central bank, called on financial institutions at the end of last year to make branches and ATMs more accessible for disabled customers.

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