Helping to make banking inclusive for all

“Part of the answer lies in taking these concerns into account when designing products and technology for modern-day banking. These problems could be addressed by giving more thought to the ideal design for older person with physical limitations.”

Contrary to the popular belief older people are hesitant to use digital technologies, new research has found most older people are reasonably happy to do their banking online.


While more older Australians (over 65) were likely to use internet banking compared with a digital app, they are responding in line with the national average when it comes to embracing digital banking.


Challenges remain though. Service providers, including banks, have to deal with a myriad of complex customer needs to ensure inclusive banking for all their customers. The digital environment can be challenging for some individuals with disabilities.


The research from UniSA into the use of digital technology among older Australians, ‘Exploring Digital Capability in Older Australians’ , provides valuable insights into better service, according to UniSA researcher and co-author of the report Braam Lowies.


Physical challenges to digital banking include talking to, manipulating and using digital devices to access digital banking services. These are issues of technology design – small buttons, poor screen resolution, difficult site navigation and problems with holding and operating small hand-held devices.


“There is existing assistive technology which could be appropriated for use in digital banking (which could be another argument for a dedicated device),” says Lowies. “This is a complex area and co-designing the digital environment and/or devices with older people with disability, especially those with vision impairment, would be a useful next step.”


Co-designing with older Australians


Part of the answer lies in taking these concerns into account when designing products and technology for modern-day banking. More can always be done to embed accessibility for older customers, says ANZ’s Customer Vulnerability and Accessibility Lead Meg Dalling.


“This research will help ANZ to continue to shape an inclusive design approach for all customer experiences,” she says. “If we design for accessibility, we can better understand and respond to these challenges, supporting convenience, dignity and independence as far as possible for everyone in the community.”


As an example, three participants with significant vision impairment who use internet banking were interviewed for the report. With professional backgrounds and active engagement in advocacy and support groups, all three used voice-over technology, screen readers and magnifiers as well as relying on family members to assist with online banking transactions.


Banking difficulties

  • An estimated 575,000 people are blind or vision impaired and currently live in Australia, with more than 70 per cent over the age of 65.
  • Seventy-three percent of Australians aged over 70 have a mild to severe hearing loss. This percentage rises as age increases. As many as 85 per cent of people in ‘nursing homes’ typically have hearing loss.


SOURCE: Vision2020, Deaf Forum

Key concerns for theses participants were small font sizes and the subsequent worry, stress and caution around inputting figures correctly.


When asked how the banking industry could make things easier for clients with vision impairment, participants recommended simplification, as well as limiting interface changes (including retaining tactile keypads which aid orientation).


ANZ’s retail banking team has been working on an outreach campaign for older Australians experiencing challenges around digital banking and the impact of branch closures.


The team has made more than 60,000 calls to customers over 65 years of age. Those calls have identified more than 90 per cent of these customers use at least one self-service option to do their banking, such as the ANZ App, internet banking or ATMs.


With a goal to enhance digital inclusion for the bank’s older customers, the project also involves tapping into community activities such as Switched on Seniors, senior events, gatherings and expos. ANZ has partnered with organisations including Telstra, NBN and Medicare.


“Older Australians need to learn at their own pace, they often need to learn something more than once without being made to feel like a nuisance,” says ANZ’s National Customer Readiness Lead Michael Grima. “This is just part of the learning process.”


Security risk


The UniSA reports also touches on the anxiety older people have regarding scams and digital security. The majority of respondents were confident of the level of security provided by online banking sites - provided transactions were not conducted on a smart phone.


About half were unsure what was meant by “spam” and/or online scams and the need to be vigilant. About one third were aware of what was meant by “computer hacking” and terms line “computer virus”. Terms like “phishing”, “firewalls” and “cyber-attack” were less recognisable.


Through his digital inclusion work with older Australians, Grima found ways to overcome concerns and build confidence. An effective first conversation can be as simple as ‘What devices do you have at home?”


Providing information, such as ANZ’s Fraud Protection Promise, and demonstrating access to digital banking for tasks like viewing transactions was an effective entry point. “Bite-size learning” over multiple appointments to learn skills including downloading apps, changing font size and changing backgrounds can also build confidence.


For Dalling, this latest report is a potent reminder to constantly engage with customers with specific needs. “We need to keep listening to lived experience and respond to the challenges that some customers may face, whether that it is in the design of


EFTPOS terminals, internet banking or conversations over the phone,” she says.

As the global digital transformation continues to accelerate, fair access for all to digital products and services becomes increasingly challenging.


“This is not unique to banking but cuts across all aspects of our lives,” says Dalling. “We know everyone will move at a different pace and we need to make sure we provide appropriate supports to ensure everyone can enjoy the benefits it brings and no one is left behind.”

Report recommendations:

  • Engaging with people with lived experience (older Australians) is important in developing and implementing new technologies.
  • Some older Australians would benefit from training programs but the teaching model needs to work with older Australians at their level of understanding. There is a concern among older Australians regarding how best to support those who struggle with online banking. Some do not have the skills to bank online, relying on third parties.
  • Vision impaired older customers would benefit from the option of a simpler online banking interface where changes to the interface are minimised. They would also benefit from larger interface on EFTPOS machines (older Australians with movement problems and poor hand control also expressed a similar request).
  • Hearing impaired customers are concerned about the way banking staff communicate with them. It would be useful to initiate workshops with banking staff to enhance the communication style.
  • Older Australians are not well informed about online security. This vulnerability may be met by education programs but not entirely. Alternatives need to be explored and establishing an expert panel with a representative group of older Australians to inform online banking security.
  • Alternative methods of providing face-to-face banking services worth exploring including ‘mobile’ banks, ‘pop-up’ banks in shopping malls and video banking facilities in malls.

Emily Ross is Content Producer and Director at Emily Ross Bespoke

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