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Are new banks attracting the older community?

Tom Belger | 16:59 Wednesday 20th September 2017

New banks are not yet doing enough to target older customers, according to one mobile bank.

In July, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that the UK population was getting older with 18% aged 65 or over, and 2.4% aged 85 or over.

The ONS also reported that in 2016, there were 285 people aged 65 or over for every 1,000 people aged 16 to 64.

This news – coupled with the revelation that 25% of over 50s would switch bank if their branch closed – has opened the door to new emerging banks looking to attract customers.

When asked if such banks were doing enough to target older customers, Sam Michael, designer at Monzo, said: “The short answer is no, not yet at least.

“It's something we think about a lot here at Monzo, and we believe that the key to attracting the elderly to new technology is by building simple, accessible, delightful product experiences.”

Alex Letts, chief unbanking officer and founder of U, added: “Stereotyping older users as being digitally excluded would be the mistake.

“The digitally excluded are excluded for reasons other than age.”

The ONS revealed that in 2016, women aged 75 or over had seen the largest rise in internet use, up 169% from 2011.

How can new tech-driven banks appeal to the older community?

In April 2016, Age UK called on the financial sector to implement “age-friendly” solutions following the closure of almost 10,000 bank branches over the past 25 years.

The charity said that although technological change brought opportunities, many over-65s remained “digitally excluded”, while some had concerns about security and lacked digital skills.

“Accessibility should be a key consideration when designing any product or service, and that includes designing for the elderly,” said Sam.

“The main difficulty challenger banks currently face is the amount of resources needed to get products to market at speed.

“Monzo is no different.

“The quicker we move, the more accessibility debt we gather.

“If we fail to think about how we make our product accessible, or leave accessibility till last, we'll be in danger of excluding certain users.

“We know it's vital we fix these things as soon as possible.”

Vuokko Aro, another designer for Monzo, added that it had listened closely to feedback, but found gathering information from older people wasn't always easy.

“We're currently improving our user research process, and one of our first goals is to recruit a more diverse range of people to join our user-testing sessions.

“This will allow us to find new sets of problems to solve so that we can build the best possible bank for everyone, no matter who they are.”

Meanwhile, Sam added: “Most smartphones come with built-in accessibility options such as VoiceOver and Switch Control on iOS and TalkBack and touch exploration on Android.

“So, there is definitely lots and lots of potential to design a product that caters to older users.

“Because we are design-focused and mobile-only, Monzo and banks like us are able to put extensive effort into incorporating all the accessibility features that smartphones have to offer.”

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