For most of us, Apple Pay has become the new norm. With the rise of contactless payments and online transactions, the physical card we used to hold an essential, almost feels obsolete. There is no doubt that online banking has become far more utilised in the past decade, with the COVID-19 pandemic increasing this further. UK finance found that 35 per cent of 18-24 year olds increased their usage of online banking after the pandemic. However, when compared to the 16 percent of 55+ year olds, the question becomes prominent, have we neglected our elders?
The rise of contactless payments can be attributed to several factors, including increased adoption of smartphones, improvements in near field communication (NFC) technology, and growing consumer interest in more convenient and secure payment options. Contactless payments allow consumers to simply tap their card, without having to enter any pin details, this is a quicker and far more convenient way to purchase goods and services.
UK finance released it's 2021 Payments Markets report, noting that "83 per cent of people in the UK now use contactless" [payments]. The COVID-19 pandemic had a large part to play in this figure, in which many places refused to take cash, to minimise physical contact and reduce the risk of virus transmission. This has led to a rapid expansion of contactless payment options, with many banks and merchants now offering contactless payment options for the first time.
It is unsurprising that the adoption of contactless payments has been more widespread among younger generations who are more familiar and comfortable with technology, but have we left the older generation behind, struggling to adapt to the new realities of everyday life?
It is understandable that the shift from traditional methods of payment may be difficult for many older people that have used cash, cheques and debit cards their whole lives. However, once familiar with contactless payments, many older people have found it preferential due to less security risks and mainly not having to remember a PIN number. This is backed up as UK finance reports that 61 percent of over 65s made contactless payments in 2018.
With a growing number of bank branches closing each year, it is to be expected that online banking will continue to grow as physical branches decline. Again, for the younger generation, who have grown up on laptops and iPods, this is far more convenient, however the older generation may struggle to convert to this abrupt change.
The main reason for this is technical issues and digital literacy, slow internet connections and outdated devices can make it difficult to use online banking effectively. However another fear among older individuals is the risk of security breaches. As a group that is vulnerable to fraud, using an online service sparks fears among many and is something they would like to avoid altogether.
The growth of customer service 'robots' and closure of physical banks, may cause concern among the older generation as they may feel there is little space left for them in our vastly growing new world.
How can we help?
To address these challenges, financial institutions and technology companies are taking steps to make online banking more accessible and user-friendly for older individuals. For example, they may offer tutorials or training sessions, or provide written materials and FAQs to help explain the process. They may also offer support through phone or email, and provide dedicated help desks for older customers.
However, there are also organisations set up to support people with these issues. Age UK offers computer classes helping both in person and online to aid people with the changing technology in our everyday lives.
Many banks also provide information talks surrounding fraud and how to keep your senior loved ones protected against scams online. These can be found on your bank website or in your local branch.
To conclude, the rise of digital banking and payments is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is inevitable and although most of us find this second nature, we must not neglect our elders, we must ensure we are continuously thinking of new and innovative ways to protect and help them adapt to our new world.