24 April 2014

Disabled and elderly facing payments barriers - study

25 October 2012  |  7505 views  |  0 Login detail

Elderly and disabled Brits face significant barriers in accessing and using payment systems, often forced to resort to workarounds such as sharing cards and PINs, according to research from the Payments Council.

Conducted by Policis and Toynbee Hall, the independent research comprised of focus groups and in-depth interviews with disabled and elderly people with a range and spectrum of physical, sensory and cognitive impairments.

Physical barriers to the use of ATMs and bank branches continue to be a major concern for many, while the visual presentation and lack of standardisation at cash machines also cause problems for some.

The problem hit the headlines over the summer when Olympics and Paralympics sponsor Visa ran into criticism for failing to provide on-site ATMs that were suitably equipped for blind and partially sighted people.

Cash machines are not the only troublesome channel though, with dexterity, memory and visual impairments all throwing up challenges for people using payment terminals and Internet banking and shopping. Nevertheless, Web-based services can also prove beneficial, empowering people with limited mobility to carry out transactions from their own homes.

These benefits tend to be limited to the better off though, and the report warns that the poor and digitally excluded can face insuperable barriers to payment inclusion or access to cash. Lack of technology confidence and know-how compounds the barriers.

Ultimately, however, it is the human factor and whether individuals have a partner or supportive family that determines the impact of barriers to payment services, says the report, with many disabled and elderly using workarounds such as the sharing of cards and PINs with people they can trust.

The Council says that it will use the study when shaping the National Payments Plan currently being put together and that it is "committed to exploring how payment services can be made to work better for potentially vulnerable groups".

Accusations that it was ignoring the needs of the vulnerable when it decided to phase out cheques three years ago have caused the organisation huge damage. The plan to kill off cheques - since scrapped - caused uproar, particularly among charities such as Age UK, and set in train a series of events which ultimately saw the Treasury select committee publish a report over the summer recommending it be stripped of much of its power. The Payments Council earlier this month responded with a proposal to create a high-level oversight authority comprised of government, regulatory and industry stakeholders that meets bi-annually and holds the Council to account on key strategic plans.

Stephen Locke, independent director, Payments Council, says: "Promoting inclusion in our payment systems is a critical part of what the Payments Council does. This research paints a vivid picture of the range of challenges that are faced by older and disabled people and will play a crucial role in ensuring their needs are placed front and centre of plans to improve our payment systems."

You can read the full study here:» Download the document now 695.6 kb (PDF File)

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