Spanish banks have taken action to address the country's demographic and technological challenges. Specifically, for the senior segment, measures include initiatives to improve customer service systems, expand the portfolio of products and services, adapt ATMs and digital channels, and financial education programmes.

Our country has significant demographic and digital divide challenges, which have an impact on the provision of all types of services: healthcare, education, culture, as well as banking. The elderly are among those potentially most affected by these challenges.

The banking sector is well aware that the elderly are a group that constitutes the backbone of society, who make valuable contributions to family and social well-being. Therefore, it will continue to work on improving the attention and service it provides to this group, both in person and digitally.

Measures to service senior customers

A recent Funcas study[1] has shown that the financial digitalisation process has accelerated especially among the elderly since the outbreak of the pandemic. The percentage of elderly digital customers increased by 27.7%. This is the age group that has experienced the greatest increase in the level of digitisation in this period. The "financial digital divides" that exist along age lines have been reduced. Currently, 52.2% of internet users over the age of 65 regularly use online banking.

This is why banks are implementing formulas that enable this group to improve and facilitate their user experience on these digital channels, while striving to offer a quality service adapted to the needs of the elderly when they choose to go to the branch.

The sector's best practices in preferential care for the elderly can be grouped into four types:

- Specialised customer service mechanisms. Within commercial networks, teams specifically trained to meet the needs of senior citizens are being established. Similarly, banks are investing in improving the channels for managing appointments in order to facilitate the planning of a more customised service.

- Offering products and services specifically tailored to the elderly. In this respect, many customers enjoy maintaining the passbook format, in that banks have found that it is better accepted as a format by the elderly.

– Adaptation of ATMs and applications, to simplify and facilitate their use.

- And, without a doubt, one of the most important measures to help reduce the digital divide and increase the use of online banking is the development of financial education programmes. Over the past three years, CECA's member entities (CaixaBank, Kutxabank and Cajasur Banco, Abanca, Unicaja Banco, Ibercaja Banco, Caixa Ontinyent, Colonya Pollença and Cecabank) have allocated more than €12 million to financial education. In 2020, almost 700,000 people over the age of 65 received financial education through these programmes. The type of training offered is as follows: financial self-management workshops, courses in collaboration with local authorities on the use of new technologies, and training regarding security.

Special measures to provide assistance to elderly people in rural areas

The Spanish banking system has the second largest branch network in the European Union, only behind France. The percentage of the Spanish population residing in municipalities with at least one bank branch is 97%, having fallen by only 1 p.p. when compared to 2008.

To ensure adequate service to municipalities in rural areas where there is no branch office, several initiatives have been launched. These include the generalisation of mobile branches ("ofibuses"). According to data from September 2021, the CECA sector has in Spain 23 ofibuses that cover close to 457,000 customers and travel to around 600 municipalities. Similarly, the networks of financial agents who, without a permanent establishment, provide personal service to customers, have been extended. In order to diversify the way cash is provided, more innovative solutions, such as cashback and cash-in shop (withdrawal or deposit of cash in a commercial establishment), have been introduced.

In accordance with the Strategic Protocol to Reinforce the Social and Sustainable Commitment of the Banking Sector, approved in July 2021, CECA and AEB are working on an in-depth analysis of the problem and on the development of additional joint measures to help the most disadvantaged populations in rural areas.

[1] Report on the Spanish banking sector in an environment of changing productivity. Funcas. November 2021.