Seniors ready for electronic banking

Read time 3min 10sec
Most senior citizens have limited experience of electronic banking and only use basic banking technologies such as ATMs.
Most senior citizens have limited experience of electronic banking and only use basic banking technologies such as ATMs.

A growing number of senior citizens are ready to embrace electronic banking services ? if their fears about security are addressed.

This was one of the biggest findings from a survey done by the South African Post Office and the University of KwaZulu-Natal on the readiness of senior citizens for electronic banking. The research covered three retirement homes in Gauteng and the North-West Province.

The study was conducted by three researchers - Bongani Diako of the South African Post Office, Professor Sam Lubbe of the Faculty of Commerce and Administration, Mafikeng Campus, and Professor Rembrandt Klopper of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Most of the 70 elderly people surveyed for the study had limited experience of electronic banking and were only using basic banking technologies such as ATMs. However, it emerged from the study that many were eager to learn more about electronic banking services such as Internet banking, cellphone banking and electronic transfers, and had favourable views on how they could benefit from some of these.

The study also found ones who were the most accepting and technologically ready for electronic banking were those who already had access to these services - even if they were not using them, says Lubbe.

He adds that 69% of the respondents indicated they feel technology gives them more control of their lives.

The researchers say the respondents indicated convenience associated with Internet banking, enabling all-hour access to their financial service providers, was something they liked.

Some 71% of the respondents said they found it easy to configure new technologies on their own and 70% said they kept up with new technologies in their areas of interest.

However, the majority of senior citizens surveyed were mistrustful about the security and reliability of banking technology. Only 24% felt it was safe to perform financial transactions via computers, while the majority of respondents (69%) felt computers were not safe, according to the report.

"An even lower percentage (16%) was convinced about the safety of the technology used in banking applications. The low levels of trust towards technology-based banking services and applications manifested in the belief that technology always seems to fail at the worst possible times," Lubbe explains.

The respondents also felt left out of information on technology innovations, indicating a need for banks to make a greater effort in promoting their technology-based products and services to their older clients.

The researchers point out the older generations are an important market for banks. Senior citizens now account for 7.7% of the South African population and this is expected to increase to 10% by 2025, they add.

Moreover, many older people have a regular (and therefore bankable) income in the form of pensions, while some also have investments. The researchers believe senior citizens who have access to these services have the desire to learn more about them, but do not have adequate access to information tailored to their needs, especially, for example, simplicity.

The researchers suggest banks should emphasise the safety of their technology-based products to increase their appeal to senior citizens. Finally, the technology divisions of banks should continue to improve the quality of their technology platforms to prevent service failures.

"This will result in improved trust by senior customers, thus winning their loyalty towards the services platforms and the banks themselves," Lubbe concludes.

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