Fintech for Seniors

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By Marilia Assis (B-Hive)

“My lord, we know what we are now, but not what we may become.” - Hamlet: Act 4, Scene 5, Page 3. Ophelia was reflecting about her imprecision of the future, a question that may arise at some point to everyone.

After the age of 65, the majority of us starts to feel a decline in our cognitive abilities. This decline can be rather light or, unfortunately, lead to more severe cases, such as Alzheimer.

An interesting point for the financial sector to note is that, according to doctors, the first easy sign to detect severe declines in cognitive abilities are the bad financial decisions that patients start to take. For instance, paying the same bill twice, being an easy victim of scams, withdrawing money for people that are taking advantage of them, etc.

We tend to believe that those are isolated cases that do not affect the economy, but this is simply not truth. This problem comes with a high price tag: in the United States alone, the annual losses from financial abuse (exploitation, fraud, trust abuse) of seniors are estimated at $36.48 billion.[1]

As the share of the population above 65 is increasing in every member state of the European Union, European banks and fintechs are lagging behind in finding solutions for this age group, especially because seniors are holding the lion’s share of the savings.

               

Can you imagine the business potential to offer all customers over the age of 65 an additional service or program to protect them? They certainly would not mind paying an extra fee.

Banks could create an automated sensitive filter for this age group, observing if they make transactions outside the usual e.g. sending high remittances to suspicious accounts (avoiding scams), etc.

It would be an asset if banks could send a text message or a call alert to the senior and/or a person chosen by the senior, to examine questionable transactions. Besides avoiding losses, this solution could help millions of people identify cognitive disorders in its initial stages, helping them to start treatments as soon as possible.

Recently, we followed several negative stories regarding the shutdown of bank branches. This lead to the stigma of banks being not senior friendly. However, if financial technology starts to focus on finding solutions for the existing needs of aging Europeans, the sector will recover its image to this age group. The banks that start to offer programs for customers over the age of 65 will be at the forefront.

In the end, Ophelia could not predict her own future, which was, as we all know, a tragic one. However, even if we cannot predict our future, most of us tend to minimise risks and protect assets. Regarding money and health - what's better than the feeling of security?

[1] True Link report on Elder Financial Abuse, 2015. Available online