Ensuring accessibility in Utah's banks, blockchains and more

Utah Business

Ensuring accessibility in Utah's banks, blockchains and more

Ensuring accessibility in Utah’s banks, blockchains and more

Signs of success 

Can being fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) help business owners succeed? Joseph Kane, the owner of Footprint Floors, thinks so.

Kane learned ASL in high school, thanks to his best friend whose parents are deaf. By spending time with his friend’s family, he quickly learned the importance of fluency in the language. 

Kane set his sights on being a business owner from a young age. Footprint Floors is his new venture—a flooring concept specializing in installing hardwood floors, tile floors, backsplashes and laminates. As a business owner, Kane uses ASL daily to communicate with friends and community members who have become clients, as well as his wife and children, whose first language is ASL.

Being a business owner fluent in ASL is very important to Kane because he wants to ensure communication is accessible for everyone, including the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. He is excited to continue growing his business and being a resource for anyone he can, he says. 

According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.5 billion people—nearly 20 percent of the global population—live with hearing loss, and 430 million of those individuals experience disabling hearing loss. By 2050, it is expected that there could be over 700 million people with disabling hearing loss. 

Kane hopes to raise awareness of the importance of learning ASL, particularly in customer service situations. “If more people knew sign language, it would make the lives of the deaf more accessible,” Kane says.

Bridging financial gaps for migrant workers—one blockchain at a time

According to the United Nations, about one in nine people globally are supported by funds sent home by migrant workers. In 2022 alone, CoinZoom—a Utah-based financial platform enabling anyone to send, spend, save and invest without barriers—allowed users to send $6 billion to their dependents without fees. 

“We believe that the power of the blockchain can help create a more secure, inclusive financial landscape on a global scale and provide access to financial services for millions of people who are not getting their financial needs met,” says CoinZoom Founder and CEO Todd Crosland.

In 2023, CoinZoom saw a massive influx of customers utilizing their free peer-to-peer money transfer service, ZoomMe®, to send their funds cross-border, with 148 percent growth in funds sent over the last six months. This proved there’s an appetite among consumers to utilize blockchain technology to move funds quickly for a very low cost. 

“Many users are utilizing these transfers on a regular basis, so we worked hard to build an app that makes it easy for them to meet their financial needs through a secure, low-cost platform,” Crosland says. “ZoomMe® is part of CoinZoom’s cash-to-crypto ecosystem for customers in 187 countries, allowing them to deposit and send cash or crypto around the globe instantly for free—saving millions of dollars in remittance fees.”

Discovering winter

Utah is known internationally for having the Greatest Snow on Earth, attracting over 7 million skier visitors to its slopes last winter alone. But according to a 2021-22 survey by the National Ski Areas Association, only 1.5 percent of skiers at resorts were Black—a number that has hardly changed over the past decade. 

On top of this, the slopes also lack skiers of other diverse and minority identities, meaning Utah’s world-renowned resorts have a long way to go when building an equitable and inclusive skiing population. 

Enter Ski Utah’s Discover Winter program. Thanks to generous funding from Morgan Stanley, The Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Foundation, Gregory Mountain Products, World Cup Supply and more, the Discover Winter program will fund the introductory snowsport experience of 150-200 underrepresented individuals. These individuals are provided with ski and snowboard rental equipment, proper ski gear and four free lessons. Once the lessons are complete, Discover Winter participants will be gifted a Ski Utah Yeti Pass, which grants access to a full day of skiing or snowboarding at each of Utah’s 15 resorts.

The hope is that the program will keep these participants skiing year after year. Alison Palmintere, director of communications at Ski Utah, noted the program has already had a significant ripple effect. “We even had one participant get so into skiing that he brought his whole family and kids,” she says.

Banking, en Español

Opening a bank account can be a daunting task for those who are not native English speakers. For example, many Latinx individuals use paternal and maternal last names, but most U.S.-based banks only allow their patrons to use one last name to open a bank account. As a result, transactions are often declined because the full name used in the transaction process does not match the name on the corresponding debit card.

According to the U.S. Census, over 42 million people speak Spanish at home. For them, Seis Bank—a Lehi, Utah-based all-Spanish-speaking bank—is a breath of fresh air. 

According to the bank’s website, most of Seis’ employees speak Spanish as their first language, and the bank hires team members from the U.S., Chile, Honduras, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and other Latin American countries. Seis’ customers can access its banking app and apply for an account online without needing a minimum balance or paying any fees. Additionally, the bank is dedicated to serving customers after 6 p.m. to accommodate late working hours. The bank offers 24/7 support, and patrons only need a passport—not a Social Security number—to open an account.