This paper by the Central Bank of Canada,  explores quantitative and qualitative information about Canadians who face barriers to making digital payments. It considered  the implications of ongoing digitalization for modern financial inclusion and a potential central bank digital currency.


Digitalization—the use of data, digital platforms and advanced analytics—has quickly become widespread in today’s society. This has introduced new opportunities, but it has also created new barriers and exacerbated existing inequities. This is likewise true in the realm of payments, where issues around financial inclusion, digital inclusion and accessibility compound the challenges for users. Our work expands on that of Henry et al. (2023). We base our research on two key premises. First, we apply the social model of disability to the Canadian payments landscape to identify opportunities to remove barriers that marginalize or hinder people. Second, we investigate beyond the standard economic measures and aggregate statistics related to these topics to build a nuanced understanding of the challenges inherent in the current system. Our findings highlight important areas of research and design consideration for new digital payment products and services, specifically for central banks contemplating the introduction of a central bank digital currency. We identify barriers that rural populations, Indigenous communities, Canadians with low incomes and persons with disabilities face in using financial products. We also note a deficiency in the current research and payment offerings for those with cognitive accessibility challenges. With these findings, we aim to build awareness of the inequities and challenges present in the current payments system and motivate existing financial technology providers to move toward offering more-inclusive products and services.

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