Queues outside a bank / Sur

Banks finalise a plan to end the digital exclusion of the elderly in Spain

Minister for the Economy and Vice-President Nadia Calviño has told banks they have one month to review their services

JOSÉ MARÍA CAMARERO

Spanish banks are close to finalising a plan to end the exclusion of elderly people who struggle with banking apps and have less access to face-to-face services because of bank closures.

The banks admit that the situation has grown worse because of Covid19 restrictions and some customers, usually older people, often people living in rural areas, find using the internet, apps and telephones for banking frustrating.

Complaints have drawn national attention, including an initiative by Carlos San Juan, 78, from Valencia, who launched an online petition 'I'm older, not an idiot', urging banks to change their ways. So far the petition has more than half a million signatories.

Minister for the Economy and Vice-President Nadia Calviño has told banks they have one month to review their services.

Sources in the banking sector said they agree the range of services and access they offer customers should be subject to a review.

“To a certain extent, perhaps we have underestimated the impact it had on the most vulnerable groups, such as the elderly,” said one banking sector source.

However, the answer may not lie in better opening hours, more branches and more staff, “It is not about going back on digitisation, but about adjusting it so that no one is left out.”

In January, the Junta de Andalucía held a working group meeting with the Bank of Spain, Caixabank, Banco Santander, Cajasur-Kutxabank, Ibercaja, Caja Rural del Sur, BBVA, Fundación Cajasol and Unicaja Banco with the aim of offering preferential care to the elderly. Currently just under 18 per cent of the population of Andalucía are elderly and by 2040 that share will rise to 28.6 per cent.