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How older people can learn online banking skills – as report finds many over-65s don’t manage money

From digital training sessions to help from relatives, there are a number of options for older people who want to grow their online banking skills.

Younger relatives can support with building digital confidence (Alamy/PA)

Nearly a third (31%) of older people with bank accounts feel uncomfortable with online banking, according to a new survey by Age UK.

The charity, which polled more than 1,000 people aged 65 and over in Britain in March and April, said nearly four in 10 (39%) are not managing their money online. Many prefer in-person dealings, with 75% wanting to undertake at least one banking task in branch.

Age UK says the findings indicate many older people could be at risk of financial exclusion, with charity director Caroline Abrahams saying: “We need to face up to the fact that huge numbers of older people, the oldest old, especially, are not banking online.

“Our new research also shows that even older people who do bank online often want the ability to talk to a bank employee in the flesh about some kind of transaction.”

As the world becomes increasingly digital, the report highlights the importance of protecting in-person banking services for those who rely on them.

But for those who do want to increase their online banking confidence, what are the options?

Find an IT skills course in your area

Lack of IT skills was cited as one of the main reasons for older people not engaging with online banking, Age UK’s survey found.

As Rajan Lakhani, money expert at smart money app Plum, points out: “There are resources available to help [older people] build their IT skills, so they have the foundations and confidence to be able to use online banking.”

Doing some IT skills training could improve confidence with online banking (Alamy/PA)

Have a look at what’s on offer in your area. “Your local council may offer free training to help build your digital skills. Many of these courses are specifically directed towards older people,” says Lakhani. “This support is often delivered in local libraries.”

Community centres and hubs, including places of worship, could also be a good place to look – check out their notice boards or give them a call to see what’s available.

Charity support

Some charities provide free training, too. Age UK has a page on ‘online banking’ on its website, as well as a directory where people can search for the charity’s computer training sessions nearest to them.

“As the UK’s leading digital inclusion charity, Good Things Foundation offers lots of resources to help people who are over 65 gain the confidence and digital skills to manage their money online,” says Natasha Bright-Wray, associate director of communications, campaigns and advocacy at the Good Things Foundation.

Learn My Way, our free learning platform for basic digital skills, helps people set up and access online banking and gives them the confidence to stay safe online.

“I would encourage anyone who feels they need support to get online safely to visit one of the National Digital Inclusion Network community hubs across the UK, where they will find services to enable them to get online, help to develop their digital skills and to improve their life through digital,” she adds.

Talk to your bank

“Many of the high street banks now offer support to help older people build their digital skills,” says Lakhani. “For example, Lloyds Bank and Halifax offer the Digital Helpline, which provides tailored support to people looking to build their IT skills as well as understand how to use online banking confidently. Booking sessions can be arranged over the phone.

“Barclays also offers support in local communities via its Digital Eagles initiative, with live events streamed virtually. Ask your bank for more information.”

Security fears

According to Age UK’s research, lack of trust in online services and not wanting to fall victim to scams were key concerns for older people.

“Although banking online may be a fearful place for some people, it offers more protection and security than traditional banking options. There is, however, a level of confidence needed to fully adapt to this way of manging finances and to know how to steer clear of any red flags,” says Jake Moore, global cybersecurity advisor at European cyber firm, ESET.

“It can be a huge safety net to install antivirus software on your computer, ideally with in-built banking protection which verify legitimate banking sites. If you choose to use mobile banking, it helps to confirm the genuine app before downloading, with due diligence such as looking for high download numbers and reading the reviews.

“Secondly, it is worth making sure all passcodes and passwords used for online banking are unique [using an online password manager can help]. Thirdly, don’t be afraid to ask questions at your bank or Post Office, as they will be happy to guide you to a safer online experience,” Moore adds. “There is also a lot of help and support online at government and not-for-profit websites, as well as at local libraries and police forces offering cybersecurity awareness advice.”

Support from family members

Lakhani says: “Family support is essential to helping older people boost their digital skills and help grow their confidence. Often the biggest hurdle is just getting started. When they’ve set up their account, they can then see how relatively straightforward it can be to bank online.

“As well as helping them set up and showing how it works, it’s important to give them guidance on how they can stay safe online, like making sure to log out and having a strong password.

“Often, many older people use going to their local bank branch to experience a change of environment and personal contact,” Lakhani adds, “So support shouldn’t simply be setting them up online. Helping them exercise to maintain both their physical and mental wellbeing and supporting them in finding a new routine is also essential.”


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