Considering we are currently living in a world in which people are living for longer than ever before, technologists have a duty to adapt fintech to suit the needs of older adults and contribute significantly to overall financial inclusion.
According to the Financial Lives Survey carried out by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in 2017, online is rapidly becoming the dominant channel for basic financial activities. Nevertheless, the proportion of online banking activity and usage of contactless payments sharply decreases as people get older.
For example, 75% of adults have checked their balance online in the last 12 months, but this number drops to just 25% for those aged 85+. Although the strong association between technology and younger adults is part of the reason for the decline, fintech might also not be addressing issues that older people are facing.
Similar to younger populations, older ones are equally diverse and have individual needs, which fintech companies can consider and cater to. Sue Lewis, an author of the FCAs Financial Services Consumer Panel report, states that it is:
“…imperative that the industry explains products simply, and takes account of the particular needs of older consumers, which might include, for example, using larger font sizes, or more interactive contact through face-to-face meetings or online video chats, like Skype”.
The report also describes how there are already innovations in place helping customers, such as the introduction of biometrics (finger print recognition), so customers no longer need to remember ‘memorable words’.
Another helpful approach involves using video or graphical content, which makes information clear and easy to understand. This approach is currently being taken in the USA, where OceanFirst bank placed video teller machines in pension homes allowing residents to speak to someone from their bank at the press of a button. Bank cards are not needed for these machines and they are able to do almost everything you can do at a normal bank branch.
Another idea from Tom Kamber, who is director of Older Adults Technology Services, is the project ‘Ready, Set, Bank’ with Capital One. This project aims to make online banking easier by creating short online video courses.
In the UK, Kalgera has a social aim of safeguarding the financial wellness of vulnerable people. Half of UK adults show signs of financial vulnerability and personally lost £1.2 billion to fraud and scams in 2018 alone with 5 million older people being targeted each year by fraudsters.
Kalgera uses machine learning to analyse financial transactions to detect subtle signs of vulnerability and the risk of falling victim to scams. Kalgera also helps by securely facilitating shared view-only access to financial transactions with trusted family and friends so they too can be alerted without compromising their bank details and without the ability to move money. This means that an older person can quickly get advice from someone they already know and trust if something doesn’t seem right without giving up control of their finances.
The perspective that older people do not want to learn about or use technology is incorrect and potentially leads to digital and financial exclusion, especially given technology can support independent living if it is adapted appropriately. Kalgera demonstrates that being tech savvy has no expiry date, and entreat quite the opposite as the company’s name means ‘good old age’ in Ancient Greek. Ultimately, there is everything to be gained in providing better safeguards to protect the finances of those most vulnerable people as we all benefit in the end.