Fintech for All: Closing the Generation Gap in a COVID-19 World
By Hannah Gdalman, Associate and Stevenson Fellow, Financial Health Network
With shelter in place orders in effect across the globe, more and more people are replacing their analog routines with digital ones — highlighting the increasing importance of technology as a means of social connection, personal empowerment, commerce, and financial management. For older generations, who face the greatest health risks from COVID-19, the need to shift their financial management systems online is critical. The move to digital can be a challenge for older adults, however, many of whom have adopted tech devices but are still accustomed to handling day-to-day needs (like managing their finances) in person.
The Financial Health Network’s recently released report, Fintech Over 50: Designing for Low- to Moderate-Income Older Adults, uncovered several key barriers that deter older adults from adopting fintech products and services. Negative stereotypes, a lack of learning resources, and the belief that fintech products don’t align with their desire for granular control over their finances leave many adults over 50 feeling that fintech is not for them.
Based on insights gleaned through human-centered design, Fintech Over 50 presents 13 design recommendations to help fintech innovators overcome these barriers and better serve adults over 50.
Here are a few key recommendations to support older users during these unprecedented times:
- Older adults often rely on younger family members or coworkers to teach them how to use new digital products and services. Now cut off from these contacts, it’s important to provide alternative learning resources in this uncharted digital environment.
- Adults over 50 highly value their communities and social connections, so many users in this segment discover new tech products through trusted channels, such as family members, peer networks, and online forums. As social distancing recommendations continue to limit in-person interactions, fintech providers need to harness the power of online communities to share information about their products and services.
- Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has led to an increase in internet fraud, such as phishing emails, which only heightens older adults’ concerns about internet security. Fintech designers and innovators will need to grow trust and confidence among older users, and should be transparent about how they will use and protect personal information.
- Older adults often feel that technology is being forced upon them by younger generations, workplaces, or institutions, but they don’t see themselves represented in the marketing and messaging for tech-based products and services. Now, social distancing recommendations mean that many adults 50 and older are considering technologies that are new to them in order to cope and stay connected. Fintech providers can harness this opportunity to support the financial health of older adults by making these users feel welcome, capable, and included in fintech, both now and in the long term.
Of the 56 million low- to moderate-income adults age 50 and older living in the U.S., more than 80% struggle with some or nearly all aspects of their financial health, including short and long-term savings, debt load, and having sufficient income to cover their basic needs. Fintech can support older adults in tackling the financial challenges they face, and allow them to manage their daily financial needs from the safety of their homes. As our lives transition online out of necessity, fintech has an opportunity to help close the digital generation gap. It’s more important than ever that financial health innovators work to better understand and design for adults over 50. Read the report today to learn how to better design your own tech solutions around the needs of these users.
The research for “Fintech Over 50: Designing for Low- to Moderate-Income Older Adults” was sponsored by AARP Foundation in collaboration with Chase. The Financial Health Network worked with Dalberg Design, a design and innovation firm that used human-centered and participatory research methods to engage low- to moderate-income individuals 50 and older in urban and rural areas across the U.S. To read more about the research methods and designing fintech for older adults, download the full report here.