Aging services and financial services aren’t commonly associated with each other. However, in recent years, the growth of older people in the global market has prompted banks to consider ways in which to make their products more “age-friendly.” Being age-friendly generally means that banks are providing effective and tailored financial products, services, and protections specifically for older people.
To examine the landscape for age friendly banking innovations, we have drafted a report that is divided into five principals:
1. Protecting older people from financial abuse.
2. Customizing financial products and services for older people.
3. Offering affordable financial management.
4. Guaranteeing access to banking products for older people with critical incomes and facilitating aging in the community.
5. Improving the accessibility of branches and services, including for people living alone with restricted mobility or in remote areas.
Touch points represent the company experience, and include telephone banking, online banking, mobile banking, concierge services, bank buildings, staff training, automated-teller machines (ATMs), and bankcards. The key challenge for banks is to design accessible age-friendly services and products. However, to reap the full benefits, special requirements of older people that come with aging need to be taken into account when designing these touch points for easy accessibility.
Designing a positive touch point experience is consequently one important element for a sustainable company-customer relationship. Not surprisingly, our report found that banks were beginning to adapt to the aging population by taking into account auditory, cognitive, mobility, and visual impairments in the design of various banking touch points.
It wasn’t difficult for us to identify good practices for accessibility on all continents. We were impressed by innovations in the developing world, including M-Pesa mobile banking solutions in Kenya. M-Pesa allows users who are not banked to transfer money using a mobile phone. Customers can add credit to a Safaricom account and use it to pay bills or transfer money via SMS.
We were also impressed by innovations in the developed world, including bank-building design by La Caixa in Spain. La Caixa has made great strides in recent years to eliminate barriers and create better points of contact in their buildings. Innovations include sign-language interpreters that appear via video conference, furniture design that encourages better contact between bankers and customers, and ensuring that all bank buildings are accessibly inside and out for customers with mobility impairments.
There are numerous other examples from across the world. However, we noticed in our research that, in many ways, age friendly banking was still in its infancy, and still not addressing the most challenging issues affecting the aging population, including the rapid growth of Alzheimer's and dementia.
According to Alzheimer's International, "As of 2013, there were an estimated 44.4 million people with dementia worldwide. This number will increase to an estimated 75.6 million in 2030, and 135.5 million in 2050. Much of the increase will be in developing countries. Already, 62% of people with dementia live in developing countries, but by 2050 this will rise to 71%. The fastest growth in the elderly population is taking place in China, India, and their south Asian and western Pacific neighbors."
Lloyds Banking Group stands out as a market leader by offering customers affected by Alzheimer’s and dementia the ability to remain as financially independent as possible while attempting to protect them from fraud and financial abuse whenever possible. Lloyds does this by offering chip and signature cards for individuals who have difficulty remembering a PIN and training staff to work with people affected by dementia. Lloyds also honors representative access to accounts through enduring power of attorney (EPA).
In those cases where banks have created touch points specifically for the older generation, they have identified a clear opportunity to align their business models with demographic change. These banks have built accessible touch points that are designed to attract or retain a growing older consumer group.
There is still much to do. And, we believe that banks will continue to innovate and offer more accessible and age-friendly services to aging consumers. However, banks also need to think more about creating products and services that help and protect the growing number of consumers with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The full report is available at: http://www.aarpinternational.org/agefriendlybanking
about the authors
Dr. Christoph Nedopil is the founder and director of the German innovation consultancy YOUSE. YOUSE is a leading provider for user experience research and design for age-friendly products and services in Europe. Christoph is an engineer by trade and finished his PhD at IMD, the business school in Lausanne, Switzerland. Since 2007 he has also been a regular consultant for the World Bank. Christoph has published several books and articles, amongst others a book on managing complexity (Palgrave) and has written extensively on age-friendly innovation, e.g. for the European Union.
Bradley Schurman is a Senior Advisor with AARP International with expertise in employment and volunteering. He is responsible for a number of AARP’s global relationships, including those with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and nations within Asia and Europe. Mr. Schurman also administers AARP Best Employers International. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from American University, and lives in Washington, DC.