Older adults join the fintech revolution featured image

Older adults join the fintech revolution

By ITU News

Older people who suffer from dementia are likely to start having problems managing their money years before their clinical diagnosis.

Financial mistakes, such as forgetting to pay bills or trouble managing savings, may be an early sign of Alzheimer disease, according to the researchers behind a 2021 US study that analysed more than 81,000 elderly people living alone.

As societies progressively age and older people pursue active socio-economic engagement, digital tools can offer valuable solutions to avoid financial problems due to memory loss or other lapses.

SilverBills is an online bill management platform that ensures timely payment and helps detect errors, fraud or unjustified billing. Its varied customer base primarily consists of older adults or their caregivers.

The service requires no computer, as users can interact with the platform by phone and receive invoices by e-mail, text message, traditional mail, or fax.

SilverBills is part of the AgeTech Collaborative, an initiative created by the US-based interest group AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) to connect start-ups, investors, and other players driving innovative solutions for people aged 50 and over.

Age-related inhibitors

Technology use among seniors is on the rise, with COVID-19 and social distancing measures acting as a major catalyst in the last three years. But many seniors still find it difficult to manage their day-to-day financial needs online.

“Negative stereotypes, a lack of learning resources, and the belief that fintech products don’t align with their desire for granular control over their finances leave many adults over 50 feeling that fintech is not for them,” says Hannah Gdalman, senior associate at the Financial Health Network.

Gdalman is one of the authors of a report that points out the barriers that inhibit U.S. seniors from embracing digital solutions.

Among other takeaways, the report highlights the need to put users in control to mitigate their concerns about security, promote connections among older adult technology users, and remove stigmas to make seniors feel like valid users of new and emerging technologies.

Financial security and end-of-life decisions

To meet real-life needs, governments and the private sector must respond to specific difficulties faced by the senior population. Among the 56 million low-to-moderate-income adults older than 50 in the United States, more than 80 per cent struggle with some or nearly all aspects of their financial health.

True Link cards are designed to protect seniors’ everyday spending and financial security. For example, the platform allows its users to block high-risk online stores, set spending limits for certain categories, and accept or block cash withdrawals from bank machines. This also helps concerned families to know in real time where funds are being spent or if a purchase has been blocked.

Another elderly-focused tool is the Cake platform, which aims to facilitate crucial end-of-life decisions. Features range from an easy way to create a will to help with organizing and financing a person’s health plans, funeral, or legacy.

Regional implications

In the Americas, as in other regions of the world, fintech solutions for the aging population vary greatly from country to country. Latin America has experienced an explosion of technologies associated with finance in recent years. Brazil’s Nubank, now constitutes the region’s most valuable listed bank and one of the world’s largest digital entities.

Still, most of the major players in the region’s silver economy are focusing on sectors such as healthcare, while areas such as financial inclusion for the elderly have not yet received due attention, says IDB Invest, the private sector arm of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Across Latin America and the Caribbean, people over 65 will increase from just over 56 million today to some 144 million by 2050, according to UN population prospects. Analysts point to the need for innovative fintech solutions to address this anticipated silver surge.

The theme of this year’s World Telecommunication and Information Society Day is digital technologies for older persons and healthy ageing.

Join the opening of the ICTs and Older Persons special track of the 2022 WSIS Forum.

Image credit: Kampus Productions via Pexels

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