OPAAL propose proactivity and localised solutions to help older people regain control
The Older People’s Advocacy Alliance (OPAAL) and Jude Atkinson, an economics student at the
University of Manchester, have published an article that has explored the devastating impacts of
digital banking dominance upon older people, and whether this huge problem has any legitimate
The shift to digital banking at the expense of in-person banking has meant that many older people
are completely losing control of their finances as they struggle to adapt to this seismic change. It has
also been the banks who’ve failed to adapt, with them not showing any urgency, efficacy or care in
providing sufficient digital banking support for older people. In this way banks have failed their
customers by prioritising productivity and profit over people.
Moreover, the closure of bank branches has also had, and is having, unimagined ramifications upon
older people. So many older people can no longer perform fundamental banking tasks due to the
lack of an in-person service, leading to them being in less control of their hard-earned money.
So many older people also now have fewer social interactions and interpersonal relationships, with
older people no longer getting out and visiting their local high-street as often or engaging with warm
customer service. This in particular has been an impact which has been tossed to the wayside by
policymakers and banks, however it’s an impact which must be acknowledged as regular social
interactions are so integral for older people.
This has been recognised by OPAAL, who propose an innovative initiative which would involve the
development of informal spaces positioned in the heart of communities where older people can
access the expertise of a banking professional, discuss their digital banking issues with others or
simply just have a chat. Such spaces should be developed quickly to make up for the pitifully slow
development of banking hubs, where, despite there being near to 250 bank branch closures in 2023,
there are currently only 7 banking hubs.
This lack of progress again emphasises how older people have been left behind and are continually
being let down by banks and organisations, which in itself points to the wider issue of older people
being inherently marginalised within social structures.
Jude Atkinson, OPAAL Research intern commented,
“The devastating impacts upon older people’s everyday lives caused by the shift to digital banking,
have been for too long unknown or, worse, ignored. This is not acceptable, and it must change if
older people’s independence and quality of life are to be upheld. So, whilst enterprise and
innovation should be both recognised and supported, progress should not be deemed progress if it
comes at the detriment of those who have already contributed so much to our economy and