Seniors on board as banking becomes 'smarter'
AS TECHNOLOGY forces changes in the way Australians bank, senior-age customers are proving successful adaptors to the evolving structures and banking processes.
The Australian Banker's Association reports the biggest change in the uptake of smart banking channels is by over 65 year olds.
They are learning more, using more and trusting more of the banking systems that are being forced on the community, and are continuing to see the face of banking in Australian evolve.
ABA's executive director for retail policy Diane Tate said technology would continue to impact on how all customers used a bank's products and services.
The technology changes are broad reaching, affecting what is happening in the face-to-face banking world, as well as online.
Bank branch face-to-face customer interaction hasn't died, but it certainly has changed dramatically in recent years.
Over the last 10 years branch numbers have remained steady at 5500, but "the type of branch is changing”, Ms Tate said.
"We are seeing much more use of technology in branches.”
Kiosks that are technology-enabled, with computers and smart ATMS and staff to help customers complete their transactions are starting to pop up.
"Branches are increasingly being equipped with a mix of self-service options for simple transactions to make sure customers can conduct their banking as fast and easy as possible, and tailored support from staff for more complex questions,” Ms Tate said.
The days of bank staff being locked behind a screen are disappearing as banks are carrying less cash and security around banks has evolved.
This means the staff are more accessible for customers to speak to on personal banking enquiries.
"Making sure banks are accessible, friendly and available is something the industry is clearly making efforts to do,” Ms Tate added.
This however doesn't mean the opening hours will change as each state has its own laws regarding opening hours.
And with further banking channels opening up, it's unlikely that there will be any significant changes to branch hours.
In the last five years the ABA has seen a significant shift in the way in which ATMs are used.
Instead, debit cards are more and more the cash choice and contact-less cards, which allow small transactions, have significantly eased the way for older and disabled customers.
"We've seen a shift in behaviour where customers are using less ATMs and taking the opportunity to take cash out at places like supermarkets,” Ms Tate said.
Supermarkets are cash rich which is why they don't have to charge for customers taking cash out at the till.
"This is a smart way to avoid paying ATM fees.
"Our consumer research shows seniors lead the way in avoiding bank fees, with 82% of people aged 65 and over reporting they always or often avoid paying ATM fees,” she added.
ABA report at least 70% of banking transactions are now completed online, but mostly through smartphones with the biggest uptake in over 65 year olds.
"We are seeing older Australians really embracing what they can do via their smartphone because it's easy.
"You can do it whenever you want so it takes away that, I have to get to the branch before 3pm on Friday,” Ms Tate said.
ABA's research has also found about 80% of over 65 year olds are reporting they are better informed on how to protect themselves online consequently making them more "comfortable doing transactions online”.
"Banks are also changing various channels, including making online banking more tailored so customers can set their preferred transactions or receive alerts to notify them of account activity,” Ms Tate added.
More and more seniors are taking advantage of the free courses available for learning how to use a computer or tablet, and how to do online banking through websites and phone apps.
The bank websites provide a range of learning tools to assist customers as well as information available at libraries.
For more information on banking legislation and changes to the banking system, go to www.betterbanking.net.au