The Psycho-Digital Divide In Online Banking

Recently I covered a study that was examining how comfortable elderly people were with new technologies designed to help them with their medication.  It’s part of a growing number of studies exploring how receptive the elderly are to new technologies.

The latest of these comes from the University of Seville, who have studied how the over 60s are responding to online banking.  It found that usage is less down to age as it is to the psychographic characteristics of the individuals.  It results in what the authors refer to as the ‘psycho-digital’ divide.

Crossing the divide

The researchers found that most people over 60 are happy to use online banking when they appreciate it’s usefulness, although they remain cautious about security issues, if only due to a lack of confidence in their own abilities.

Accessing online services can be crucial in maintaining a high level of active ageing, but there remain some key psychological barriers that can hold people back.  Having the support of younger family members can be key to overcoming these barriers.

“The most recent users of online banking are those for whom Information Technology forms no part of their daily routine or who don’t feel comfortable using it. This means that they feel more insecure and that they choose to continue going to branches of the banks where they can receive the support of the staff there,” the authors say.

The grey market

Despite not being natural adopters of technology, the grey market is increasingly important, both due to their spending power and growing numbers.  To date however, the banks have largely failed to promote their digital offerings effectively to them.  They have certainly offered insufficient help and support to encourage adoption, with most adoption resulting from informal efforts done by the customers themselves.

“The banks should show that their online services are useful in daily life and communicate this fact by means of, for example, explanatory leaflets, advertisements, adapted applications and favouring user recommendations. The design of a friendly and accessible interface for their online banking platform would have the result of people trying the service; some over-60s using the service would give them an experience they could share with others; and with a usable, interactive design, it would be easy to learn to use online banking, helping to create favourable conditions that for the over-60s the positive aspects of online banking outweigh its drawbacks,” the authors conclude.