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Banks urged to help 'digitally-excluded' older people

Banks and building societies have been urged to be more aware of 'digitally-excluded' older people, in a report from the charity Age UK.

Advances in banking technology can leave older people feeling excluded according to Age UK. Credit: Rui Vieira / PA Wire/PA Images

The charity said that despite the rise in technology such as online banking around 4.5 million over-65s across the UK are not technologically-savvy.

Age UK said that for some, the cost of getting online is "prohibitively high", while others may lack computer or digital skills or access to training.

Some may also have concerns about security issues and many older people may also have particular problems with mobility and other physical issues, as well as problems remembering passwords.

Age UK said that with thousands of branch closures across the UK in recent years and an ageing population, more consideration of the needs of older customers and how these can be met is needed.

Older people often tell us about the challenges they face when it comes to managing their money.

The increasing reliance on online methods is difficult for many and bank branch closures can leave older people feeling high and dry...

That's why we're urging every financial service provider to put 'age-friendliness' at the heart of their propositions. Not only is this good for older people, it can make great business sense as well.

– Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK

Below are some of the suggestions Age UK has made for an age-friendly bank:

  • Bank and building societies' new technology should be tested by older users to ensure user-friendliness
  • Making sure staff are trained to recognise the specific needs of older people
  • Designing branches that are easily accessible
  • Introducing better call handling systems with staff speaking more clearly and being sensitive to customer vulnerability

Age UK said many older people like to receive paper statements. It has seen evidence that people particularly did not like what were seen as "sneaky" ways of moving them to electronic banking statements, such as having a hard-to-see tick box if they want to continue receiving paper statements.

Carers should also be able to carry out banking functions for the person cared for without breaching the terms and conditions of accounts, the report argued.

Age UK also called for more help for older people to find the best interest rates for their savings more easily and said they should not be defaulted onto poor interest deals.

It also said "arbitrary" age limits on some financial products, such as mortgages, should also be removed.