Filipino banking app for blind, elderly wins Microsoft Accessibility hackathon prize

Filipino Microsoft Accessibility hackathon prize
Team EIA from the Philippines is hard at work at developing an inclusive banking platform for people who are blind. L – R: Christian Calonge, Ivan Christopher Carrillo. Microsoft photo.

Team EIA from the Philippines has won second runner-up in the Microsoft AI for Accessibility (AI4A) Hackathon in the Asia Pacific region for developing an inclusive banking platform for the visually impaired and the elderly.

Team EIA was announced among the winners of the regional hackathon during an awards ceremony to kick off the software company’s celebration of Accessibility Awareness Month in May 2022.

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The Filipino team competed among 75 teams across ten countries that developed solutions to real-world challenges faced by people with disabilities (PWDs).

To build a more inclusive banking experience for the blind and the elderly, Team EIA from the Philippines developed the Accessibility and Vision Assistant (AVA), a smart financial assistant and mobile wallet powered by Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

The team’s winning innovation aims to make digital banking more accessible to the blind and the elderly, while also driving more financial inclusion for these groups of people to enable them to access payments and banking services quickly and securely.

“Its main purpose is to provide assistance in navigating the financial world through our mobile app. The main problem we wanted to solve is the financial exclusion of the blind or elderly and their difficulty of accessing a formal financial sector,” Ivan Christopher Carrillo, one of the Team EIA’s team members, said during the awards ceremony live-streamed on May 7, 2022.

Team EIA from the Philippines wins the third prize in the Microsoft AI for Accessibility (AI4A) Hackathon for developing an inclusive banking platform for the blind and the elderly. Screengrab from Microsoft APAC YouTube.

The group wanted to help build a financially inclusive banking experience for the blind and the elderly and to address the discrimination faced by people with disabilities in the formal financial sector.

“Hopefully with the help of AVA, the AI assistant, we can build a financially inclusive banking experience among the blind and elders,” Carrillo explained.

“That’s why our vision is “the future of finance is open, inclusive, and, accessible, enriching their lives by having an easy and secure solution for their financial needs. Currently, there’s discrimination towards PWDs when accessing the formal financial sector such as bill payments, loans, or credit. We hope to establish a financial future where they are empowered to their own financial decisions and achieve a sense of financial autonomy,” Carrillo added.

Now in its third year, the AI4A Hackathon featured teams who are deeply committed to solving real-world challenges faced by people with disabilities (PwD). The hackathon acts as a springboard for creators and developers to launch their applications, with cash prizes, access to Microsoft Technical experts to co-build their solutions on Microsoft Azure, and continued mentoring support to build out their solutions.

Drawing on real-life challenges faced by PwDs, 14 non-profit organizations (NPOs) shared problem statements that the 75 teams in the AI4A Hackathon used to build innovative solutions around the themes of transport, wearable devices, and language tools.

The University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P) students earlier delivered the Philippines’ first win at the global Estée Lauder Companies (ELC) Hack4A11y Virtual Hackathon for their assistive mobile application for people with disabilities.

The all-Filipina startup Cawil.AI Solutions recently won the second prize in the 2022 International Trade Centre (ITC) SheTrades Global Hackathon.

SEND CONGRATULATIONS in the comments below to Team EIA from the Philippines for winning second runner-up in the Microsoft AI for Accessibility (AI4A) Hackathon in the Asia Pacific region for their inclusive banking platform for the visually impaired and the elderly.

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Margo is a voracious reader - some might even say she reads too much for her own good. She majored in BS Psychology and hopes to become a forensic psychologist one day. She’s also an aspiring writer, mental health advocate, and a staunch believer of equality.