Age-Friendly Banking: How to Offer Elderly Users Digital Assistance

Age-friendly banking is defined by Age UK as “banking products, services and facilities that remain accessible and easy-to-use as people age“. However, is online banking doing enough to welcome elderly users?

As digital banking services are often considered the preserve of the young, and tend to be targeted at aiding the ever-connected lives of tech-savvy millennials, very few banks are utilising fintech and CX tech to assist the elderly; to make services more accessible, and provide a level of assistance and reassurance that is just not available without a trip to their local branch. If, of course, the elderly can still manage a trip to their local branch, and if their local branch still exists…

The elderly – those aged 80 and over – are the fastest growing section of the British population. By 2020, that number is likely to have reached over 3.5 million. While a third of the elderly use the internet for social purposes, just 9% regularly use internet banking.

Before we denounce the entire banking sector for neglecting, forgetting or even ignoring the elderly market, however, the first thing to consider is why the elderly are currently not using online channels for financial matters. Well, according to a recent study by the Finance Foundation, the top reason that the elderly do not use online banking services was that they ‘want people not machines’ (86%). Other reasons cited was that they were afraid of making mistakes, or worried about fraud.

As such, many elderly people end up asking friends and carers for help with online banking, requesting assistance to find the right bank account or settle bills. Over three-quarters of respondents said the help they received from their family or friends was essential.

Some banks have recognised this need, and have launched age-friendly banking schemes, where employees volunteer to teach basic digital skills to encourage the elderly to become more financially independent. However, these sessions still require participants to clear their schedule, seek out a branch and make the trip there.

Just as certain mobile phone brands have carved out huge sections of their industry by creating products targeted specifically at the elderly, banking technology and hardware could also sport more age-appropriate design, like bigger screens and buttons on ATMs.

The Finance Foundation study discovered that the elderly would prefer bank staff were “better at explaining things in the right way” and at the right pace and place along the journey. Other changes that older people would like to see included ‘face to face interactions, not machines’ (48%); teach people how to use machines (17%); make it easy to do things by phone (18%); improved letters/ communication (20%).

Better, more inclusive customer experience makes sense, both morally and financially, as, with mortgages paid off and children long-gone, the retired generation have a sizeable disposable income.

In fact, Mark Beasley, chairman of the Mature Marketing Association, believes that over the next 20 years, consumption growth in most mainstream markets will be driven by the over-60s. Indeed, this sector has a rising share of income compared with other demographics and therefore an increasingly high spending power. Euromonitor has projected that the spending power of consumers aged 60+ will double over 10 years and reach $15 trillion by 2020.

Imagine a world where banks utilised the technology at their disposal to assist the elderly; where banks equipped their front-life staff with the digital tools to visually explain products and collect e-signatures and allow customers to complete forms and exchange documentation as if they were there in person.

In this brave new world, customer contact agents could help the aged to use self-service platforms with confidence, talking them through when and where to click so that they may use it independently later. Aged-friendly solutions can also be used to allay customers’ fears of fraud by being able to point out (using the cursor) what to look out for or how to remedy mistakes. Zoom-in functionality, easy to read colours and font sizes, simplified UI, and the ability to amplify volumes should all be a consideration when enterprises update their CX tech.

Considering that as people get older, their hearing, vision and mobility tends to suffer, it is short-sighted, selfish even, that the elderly are expected to use the same online and offline channels as everyone else.

Several leading banks are currently using Vizolution technology to offer more age-friendly banking functionality in their remote channels. Our solutions allow banks to customise their solutions to the customer, offering the benefits of a face-to-face interaction, including a patient personability and agile approachability that is truly appreciated by the elderly.

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