Tuesday 23 July 2019

Cashless society: Lack of access to online services threatens to leave elderly people behind

Contactless card
Contactless card

Markus Krug

There are fears elderly people could be left behind as cashless payment become increasingly popular, but small businesses are increasingly adapting to the trend away from bills and coins.

Age Action, the national independent organisation for ageing and older people, said the older generation faced some specific difficulties when it comes to cashless payment methods.

Celine Clarke, a spokeswoman for Age Action, said because cashless payment methods were usually used in connection with online activities, elderly people were more vulnerable.

“People have difficulties accessing services like online banking because of lack of devices, access or digital literacy.”

“Over 50pc of people between 65 and 74 have never been online. And over the age of 80 the number of people online is negligible.”

A recent study by the Dublin Mint Office cited the elderly and small businesses as two of the main groups that would be vulnerable to those changes. Some 88pc of the respondents believed that these groups would be at a disadvantage.

However, Age Action, said there were many elderly people who were adapting to cashless payments.

“It is not a general issue of age. We know of many older people that use cashless payment. They pay via phone apps, credit cards and all sorts of technology. It is not a general thing of a group over 65. It is not so much that they prefer cash. Some simply say they don’t like to bank online and that is why they carry cash,” added Ms Clarke.

Similarly to the elderly, small businesses face challenges with a cashless society model due to higher costs for technology and banking fees.

Sven Spollen-Behrens, Director of the Small Firms Association, said: “When moves towards a cashless society first began, there were concerns that transaction charges would increase for the provision of electronic payment services.

“However, as cashless spending has increased, independent retailers now have access to new low-cost portable card readers, which can process contactless card and smartphone payments.”

Despite their concerns about a cashless society, 66pc of the respondents in the study still find cashless payment methods more convenient.

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