MADRID — Aggravated by fiddly monetary apps, retired urologist Carlos San Juan received greater than he bargained for when he started a marketing campaign for a extra user-friendly service from Spain’s banks. 

The 78-year-old kicked off a revolt dubbed “I’m outdated, not an fool” on-line on the finish of December and by mid-February had greater than 640,000 signatures, forcing a change of tack. 

Now Madrid has given Spanish banks till the top of the month to deal with the wants of the aged, with providers resembling withdrawing cash from ATMs or with the ability to function remotely. 

“I’m asking that they deal with their prospects from whom they earn money with humanity and courtesy, irrespective of how outdated they’re,” Mr. San Juan advised Reuters. 

Amongst Spain’s greater than 9 million over-65s, who signify nearly 20% of the full inhabitants, many have struggled to handle their funds since financial institution branches began vanishing from the excessive avenue. 

The issues lay naked the disconnect between pursuing income via large layoffs and servicing the wants of a piece of the inhabitants scuffling with cheaper channels. 

Mr. San Juan says pressing measures resembling a face-to-face customer support all through workplace hours have been among the many priorities, earlier than embarking on monetary training. 

Regardless of greater than halving the variety of branches for the reason that monetary disaster in 2008, Spain nonetheless has one of many densest banking networks on the earth, with barely greater than 45.5 retailers per 100,000 adults. 

“It’s not an issue a few lack of branches, it’s about banks not helping [the] aged correctly,” Patricia Suarez, head of Spanish client affiliation Asufin mentioned. 

Mr. San Juan’s marketing campaign has now unfold to Germany, the place near 30% of the 83 million individuals are 60 or older. 

Nicola Roehricht of the German Nationwide Affiliation of Senior Residents’ Organisations is on an analogous mission. 

Ms. Roehricht travels the nation, chatting with policymakers at conferences and senior residents of their houses concerning the significance of creating our on-line world extra inclusive. 

“We inform seniors, ‘Ask the banks that can assist you with banking.’ We mustn’t be ashamed that now we have a smartphone and we don’t know the way it works. You have to present up and say, ‘I don’t perceive your unusual English expressions. So assist me,’” she mentioned. 


Whereas conventional banks in Spain, resembling Caixabank, have minimize hundreds of jobs to deal with extremely low rates of interest, these with a pure digital strategy have been capable of higher address the affect of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Spanish and Portuguese unit of Dutch financial institution ING, this week mentioned it had elevated its return on fairness (ROE) to 12% on the finish of 2021 in comparison with 7.4% a 12 months in the past. That compares to a median ratio of 6.9% in Spanish banking. 

The ING unit mentioned that its price of managing deposits, loans and funding merchandise was roughly a 3rd decrease than the Spanish common because it has simply 1,400 workers in Iberia. 

In digital-laggard Italy, the aged can nonetheless discover all the assistance they want in a department however as banks shut retailers, issues are looming FABI union chief Lando Maria Sileoni mentioned. 

Italy’s largest financial institution Intesa Sanpaolo, which plans to chop 22% of its branches within the subsequent 4 years, has struck a partnership to supply fundamental providers resembling invoice funds via 45,000 cafes and tobacconist kiosks. 

And in Britain, the federal government plans laws to make sure that the digital banking drive doesn’t minimize older folks adrift. 


In Spain, AEB banking affiliation head Jose Maria Roldan just lately thanked Mr. San Juan for highlighting a “drawback that was rather more advanced and extra everlasting than we thought”. 

Jose Ignacio Goirigolzarri, chairman of Spain’s largest financial institution by home belongings, mentioned {that a} quarter of Caixabank purchasers over 70 used distant channels in comparison with 85% of their thirties. 

A draft doc seen by Reuters from joint voluntary proposals reveals Spanish banks plans to increase over-the-counter providers, dedicate workers to have interaction with the aged and make apps extra user-friendly. 

Different senior Spanish bankers, together with BBVA chairman Carlos Torres, say that technological exclusion doesn’t solely have an effect on older folks however is a matter of “digital expertise.” 

Santander, BBVA, Sabadell and smaller lender Abanca have just lately introduced they may prolong or have already prolonged cashier providers of their networks. 

However none plan to rent any additional workers, one thing that Asufin and Comisiones Obreras, Spain’s largest union within the sector, say might enhance the workload of overstretched workers. 

Antonio Luque Delgado, a banking worker for greater than 25 years, mentioned that hiring could be key to deal with this, particularly after banks have minimize 100,000 jobs for the reason that monetary disaster. 

“While you pressure a 70-year-old individual to obtain an app, you already know that it isn’t going to work. that the client will probably be again within the workplace the subsequent day as a result of he has forgotten the password, as a result of he has entered it wrongly,” Mr. Luque mentioned. 

For Mr. San Juan, the battle for inclusion is simply starting. 

“This isn’t the top. Good causes fail due to fatigue, we’ll go on,” he mentioned. — Jesús Aguado/Reuters

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