New Banking App Teaches People with Autism How to Make Transactions Securely

One of the scariest parts of becoming an adult is learning to manage your own finances and make financial transactions. This learning process may be even more difficult for people with autism, which is one of western New York’s largest banks is working to develop an app that helps prepare individuals on the spectrum to make banking transactions safely, securely, and confidently.

M&T Bank has partnered with Buffalo startup Magnusmode, the 2018 winner of the 43North competition, to develop a new technology to help people with autism adjust to managing their money.

Photo: ABC 7 News WKBW

“Money can be scary for any individual, regardless of whether you have a disability or not,” says Stephanie Tisdale, VP at M&T Bank. Her brother is living with Asperger’s Syndrome.

The invention is an app called MagnusCards that explains each step of various banking transactions, such as making a withdrawal or deposit at the bank, using an ATM, making a purchase, etcetera. The app shows the individual what they should say and do, what they should expect a bank teller or ATM to do, and what the end result of the transaction should look like.

Photo: ABC 7 News WKBW

“Think of an airport. Everyone has anxiety when they enter an airport—so much noise and confusion, it’s overwhelming. Imagine feeling that level of anxiety or uncertainty around everything you did,” says Nadia Hamilton, president and founder of Magnusmode.

MagnusCards uses written text punctuated with pictures to describe how each transaction works. There is also audio available to walk users through each step.

Photo: ABC 7 News WKBW

One of the main benefits of MagnusCards is giving people with autism more confidence in their ability to handle their money. However, it also acts as a safety net to help people on the spectrum detect anything suspicious in order to ensure that their transactions are safe and secure.

David Zolnowski, president of M&T’s Disability Advocacy Network, says the goal of the MagnusCards is to increase the recognition of fraud and keep people with special needs from being taken advantage of by unscrupulous people. Zolnowski, who has a 23-year-old son with Down syndrome, says he’s seen the app work well in his son’s life as he learns to be more independent.

Photo: ABC 7 News WKBW

M&T Bank and Magnusmode are already planning to add more tools, like how to use mobile banking apps such as Venmo or Zelle, to their app. Magnusmode hopes to eventually have a wide variety of customer-based businesses using this tool to help people with special needs be able to use their systems successfully.

“It’s a pathway from exclusion to inclusion and also from isolation to active participation,” says Hamilton.

Photo: ABC 7 News WKBW

For now, we think this is a great resource for people on the autism spectrum or people with other special needs who are becoming more independent and looking to manage their own money as safely as possible.

Check out the video below to learn more about MagnusCards and how it’s helping people.

Support Research & Therapy

Help those with Autism and their families at The Autism Site for free!