Old but not out: Personalizing digital banking for seniors

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A large percentage are increasingly comfortable using mobile phones and apps

India’s youth, which represents 30% of the population, is indeed an attractive market for various services including digital banking with their natural inclination towards digital access. However, the elderly segment which stands at around 138 million in 2021 is also becoming important to financial institutions for digital services, especially in the post-pandemic era. This number is expected to increase to 192 million by 2031 and is therefore a segment that requires a specialized approach.

Currently, most financial institutions do not have a differentiated approach in their digital offerings for seniors and they are treated the same as other regular customers. It is no longer correct to assume that senior citizens are not tech-savvy and therefore will not have access to digital offerings. While it is true that senior citizens still prefer to visit banks to check their account balances, a large percentage of them are becoming increasingly familiar with the use of mobile phones and applications.

Seniors have unique financial needs and their digital behavior and personality are also distinctive, which should be taken into account in the digital efforts of financial institutions. In this context, it is important to examine the customer journey of seniors with their unique emotional needs and then develop an appropriate digital strategy. Their needs for retirement security, medical support, and ease of disbursing afterlife funds to friends and relatives are the primary emotional topics around which content strategy should be designed.

Content needs related to senior products that require special attention include renewing deposits or verifying basic products such as savings accounts featured with comparisons, facts and assurance. The presentation for seniors should use large fonts, clean spaces, and simple infographics supported by easy-to-navigate portals and ready-to-use voice bots. A senior friendly experience is as important as any other customer to feel comfortable with the process of engaging with the product supplier. The Pension Seva portal is a good example of a specialized category of digital offering designed just for seniors, easy to access and navigate.

Cybersecurity is a concern for product vendors. Many of them continue to send messages to seniors at regular intervals warning seniors to be aware of scammers and protective measures to take. Sometimes this creates a psychosis of fear in seniors leading to distrust of the digital medium. Financial institutions must respond to this concern of seniors and create trust through specially designed applications and services.

Some banks have started to discourage customers, including seniors, from personally visiting their branches for simple transactions and are instead encouraging them to switch to digital banking, especially during the pandemic. While this has facilitated faster adoption of digital methods for some, for most others who are not yet familiar or hesitant with digital adoption, it would be good to promote mobile and online banking tools through orientation sessions at branch kiosks. Reinforcing messaging over an extended period through digital channels and agencies encouraging them to start with simple transactions would ensure faster adoption of digital banking among seniors.

The author is president of Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company

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