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Contactless Cards Cause Concern for Elderly Customers

Contactless card have become very convenient and work well for most of us, however, they don’t work for everyone.

Under normal circumstances, the option to pay with a contactless card is more frequent; but with the current pandemic the UK is facing, it has become more of a requirement if possible. Retailers have encouraged customers to pay for items in-store by using a contactless card if possible. However, that has raised concerns over the effect that will have on elderly members of society.

As technology and digital continue to evolve, there are new ways in which we can manage our finances. Digital banking applications have been challenging for the elderly to get to grips with, which sees them opting for paying with cash. Independent chair at the Access to Cash Review, Natalie Ceeney spoke of the challenges the elderly face.

Take someone relying on a neighbour for their shopping,” says Ms Ceeney. “Handing over a £20 note is safe — you limit your potential loss and can easily see whether the change looks right.”

“However, giving a helper a contactless card is potentially fraught with risk. “It could be used many times — now at up to £45 a go — and customers wouldn’t be protected by their banks, as they’ve handed over their card voluntarily.”

It raises security issues that they will have to be particularly weary of as digital transactions increase. The limit on contactless payments rose from £30 to £45 last month, in a bid to limit the transmission of coronavirus at card terminals.

Gareth Shaw, head of money at consumer group said: “This will benefit a large majority of those who are comfortable using contactless payments – That said, there are significant numbers of people in the UK that are solely reliant on cash”.

According to UK finance, there are predictions that the UK will become “virtually cashless” in the next decade. Should predictions be accurate, this leaves major concerns to how the elderly, who are most vulnerable during the pandemic, will be able to access cash.

“Many older people are following government advice and staying indoors for what is an extended period of time,” says Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK. “Banks must develop innovative new ways of getting cash to customers, so no older person who needs it is left cashless, for example by sending cash through the post in a similar way to foreign currency.”

Although shops are encouraging customers to use contactless payments when possible, they are also being urged to continue to accept cash payments wherever possible.

With fears growing over the potential digital exclusion for older customers, Lloyds Banking Group announced their new hotline for the over-70. Older customers who do not bank digitally can select a trusted person, such as a family member, friend or a volunteer that can help them manage their bank accounts.

Although Lloyds have announced this initiative, security measures are firmly in place. Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Lloyds says a trusted person can visit a branch with suitable ID (passport or photo driving licence). The branch will then phone the customer to make sure they know the person and agree that they can act on their behalf. The banking group has also advised customers who do not bank online to pay volunteers who offer assistance with a cheque.

The lockdown is not the main concern for the elderly, but once it's over.

“People who are most dependent on cash are generally the most vulnerable members of society,” says Ms Ceeney. “We’re talking about people who are older, who are poorer, people who have disabilities, or live in rural areas.” “I’m not merely worried about the lockdown, I’m concerned about what happens after,” she says. “There is a severe risk that people will still need cash, but the infrastructure will no longer be there.”


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