The pre-revolution age against the demands of saving European seniors
Frustrated with cumbersome financial apps, former urologist Carlos San Juan went above and beyond when he campaigned for more user-friendly services from Spanish banks. The 78-year-old launched his online rebellion in late December titled ‘I’m old but I’m not stupid’, and by mid-February had over 640,000 signatures and one direction I was obligated to convert. Madrid has now allowed Spanish banks to offer services such as withdrawing cash from ATMs and working remotely to meet the needs of the elderly until the end of this month.
San Juan said that before starting his financial education, urgent actions such as personal customer service during office hours were one of his priorities. Although the number of branches has more than halved since the 2008 financial crisis, Spain still has one of the densest banking networks in the world, with 45.5 branches per 100,000 adults. “It’s not a problem that there aren’t enough branches, it’s that banks don’t really help older people,” said Patricia Suárez, president of Spanish consumer group Asfin.
“I urge you to treat your money-making customers with humanity and courtesy, regardless of age,” San Juan said. Many over the age of 65 in Spain, which accounts for almost 20% of the total population, have struggled to manage their finances since bank branches began to disappear from main streets. The issue highlights a disconnect between trying to take advantage of massive job cuts and meeting the needs of a segment of the population struggling with cheaper channels.
The San Juan campaign is now spreading to Germany, where around 30% of the 83 million people are over 60. Nicola Rohricht from the Federal Association of German Senior Citizens’ Organizations has a similar mission. Roehricht travels across the country speaking at conferences to policymakers and seniors at home about the importance of making cyberspace more inclusive. “We say to older people, ‘Ask your bank to help you with your banking.’ Don’t be ashamed of having a smartphone and not knowing how it works. You introduce yourself and “I don’t understand your weird English expressions.
Traditional Spanish banks like Caixabank have laid off thousands of jobs to cope with ultra-low interest rates, but banks with a purely digital approach have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. successfully coped with the impact of the Spanish and Portuguese divisions of Dutch bank ING announced this week that they will increase their return on equity (ROE) to 12% by the end of 2021. This compares to the average interest rate of 6.9% for Spanish banks. The ING department said the costs of managing deposits, loans and investment products are about a third lower than the average in Spain, as it has only 1,400 employees in the Iberian Peninsula.
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- Pre-revolution age against the demands of saving European seniors
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