Spanish banks expand cash services for the elderly to fight exclusion

MADRID, Feb 21 (Reuters) – Under pressure from a campaign led by a 78-year-old pensioner against the financial exclusion of older people in the digital age, Spanish banks have agreed to expand cashier services and to provide better customer service, the government announced. Monday.

Many of Spain’s more than nine million over the age of 65, almost 20% of the total population, have struggled to manage their finances since bank branches began to disappear from the main street and move to the digital. Read more

“From now on, elderly people who go to a bank branch will benefit from this personalized and preferential approach with an extended cashier service, which they asked us to provide,” said Economy Minister Nadia Calvino, explaining the details of an agreement concluded with Spain. banking associations.

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His ministry had been urging the industry to tackle the problem in recent weeks, spurred by a two-month campaign led by retired urologist Carlos San Juan dubbed “I’m old, not an idiot.” Read more

His petition was signed by more than 640,000 people and it caused lenders to change tack.

“I’m glad to see the elderly won’t be left out…Today is a great day,” San Juan said Monday.

Among the measures, banks will dedicate trained staff to interacting with older people and making ATMs, apps, websites and remote channels, such as telephone banking, more user-friendly.

Bank of Spain Governor Pablo Hernandez de Cos said the protocol offered concrete answers for those with low digital skills and that the central bank would oversee its implementation.

“We should not take for granted (that these actions) will be enough,” added De Cos.

The problems in Spain and other European countries have laid bare the disconnect between seeking profit through mass layoffs and meeting the needs of a section of the population struggling with cheaper online channels.

Calvino echoed De Cos’ comments and added that if these measures prove insufficient or can be improved, “we will have to promote and deploy other measures that guarantee access to banking services for all citizens”.

The measures have raised questions among unions and consumer associations who say they could fail if not accompanied by new hiring.

Among the consumer protection measures, the government plans to approve in the coming weeks a bill on services with specific requirements for the financial sector, improved channels and personalized attention, the ministry said. ‘Economy.

It is also setting up a Financial Customer Protection Authority, to ensure that institutions meet their obligations while promoting the digital inclusion of the elderly, particularly in rural areas.

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Reporting by Jesús Aguado, editing by Andrei Khalip and Mark Heinrich

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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