Tech For All: Meet the IT experts helping the elderly
These tech-savvy volunteers from Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc. are teaching seniors how to use e-payments.
Multinational corporations may be changing the world with innovation and transformative technologies, but some are also ensuring that no one is left behind in this digital age.
In Singapore, volunteers from technology corporations Hewlett Packard Enterprise and HP Inc. are paired with seniors to educate them on how to use e-payments to make their lives easier and more efficient.
During the e-Payment Learning Journey sessions, the volunteers have various duties, including helping seniors install payment apps and troubleshoot installation issues, such as low storage space and version compatibility. They also assist and teach them how to transfer money using the DBS PayLah! app, make payments using a QR code, and top up their EZ-Link card with NETS at the MRT station.
We speak to HP Inc. Procurement Engineer Mark Ong, 26, and Operation Analyst Ang Yen Fen, 38, as well as Hewlett Packard Enterprise Advisory Consultant Khairul Fahmi Bin Ahmad Mahbob, 27, and Sales Consultant, Stephanie Lee, 23, to find out what spurred them to step up as digital advocates for the elderly.
How did you start volunteering for the e-Payment Learning Journey?
Mark: I jumped at this opportunity when I learned about it through an office email. It resonated with me as I believe that e-payment technology is the future.
Yen Fen: Same here. I wanted to get involved as it helps me understand e-payments more. At the same time, I can also introduce this technology to the people around me, especially my elders.
Stephanie: I first heard about the event through the company’s Social Impact Committee. It was a valuable opportunity to get involved for a worthy cause, by teaching seniors how to leverage tech in our fast-paced world. At home, I constantly get questions from my parents about tech-related issues that our generation wouldn’t think twice about. It made me want to help other parents and grandparents, who may not have someone at home to guide them.
Khairul: Like Stephanie, I first heard about the journey during my onboarding at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Most of us feel impatient and easily frustrated when teaching our parents how to use mobile applications. I felt this activity would allow me to empathise with my own family members.
So what was the experience like?
Mark: It was eye-opening to understand the problems faced by non-techie Singaporeans. The most memorable part was the seniors telling me they felt “cool” and young again after I guided them through the apps.
Khairul: The generational gap between digital natives — those born during or after the rise of digital technologies, and digital immigrants, those born before the advent of digital technology — was very apparent. Yet many seniors have the grit to keep learning. They shared how their children and grandchildren do not have the time to teach them and were thankful for these activities. Perhaps such initiatives should also start at home.
What was most rewarding for you?
Stephanie: Seeing the joy in the seniors when they successfully completed a task and knowing that these skills will benefit them in the future.
Khairul: It was rewarding to teach someone a skill that is necessary in this digital age. While most of us as digital natives find these things trivial, it may not be the case for the seniors.
And the most challenging?
Mark: When I explained what this was all about, including showing them the apps, it seemed like even their children were not aware of these new features in e-payment apps in Singapore.
Khairul: Many of the seniors have the drive to learn even at their age, but that in itself comes the most challenging part. As a volunteer, I had to constantly remind them to be patient when learning about new technologies.
Yen Fen: The participants were new to this and some were a little reluctant to use e-payments.
Why do you think it is important to help seniors understand e-payments better?
Stephanie: No one is better equipped to help teach the seniors than our generation; these tech-related skills are second nature to us.
Khairul: Considering the generational gap between digital natives and digital immigrants, it is our duty and responsibility to ensure that as we progress towards being a Smart Nation, we do not leave anyone behind.
Yen Fen: Agreed. Being a volunteer with IT experience also helps as we can explain complex questions and answer them simply. This gives participants a sense of closure and understanding since e-payments involve their own money.
Even though you are an IT expert, did you learn anything new or useful about e-payments?
Stephanie: Yes, I actually learned about the QR code feature more as we taught the elderly how to make use of it to purchase items. I usually use my e-payment apps to transfer money to others or pay bills but never really explored the QR code feature. With the rise of such payment methods among vendors recently, I’ve actually used the feature to pay for my meals quite a few times since the event.
Khairul: Apart from the e-wallets (such as DBS PayLah!) that I am familiar with, the EZ Reload option, which was covered during a session that focused on topping up EZ-Link cards, was a useful new piece of information for me. I am now able to see the convenience of this, not only for the seniors but for us working adults as it will save us a lot of time.
Mark: I learned a lot about the old smartphones, such as the first iPhone model, as well as the Blackberry and Samsung S2 phones, and how their operating systems work as technology moves so fast. The elderly are not as quick to change their phones as often, which impacts the apps we can roll-in for them. For instance, these phones have no fingerprint sensors, yet some apps require them.
How would you encourage people to volunteer to guide seniors?
Mark: I believe in walking the talk, so it is best if people come down and see the event for themselves. Let them decide if it’s fruitful.
Stephanie: It’s always the first step that’s the hardest to take, so just take that leap of faith to volunteer a few hours of your time. The fulfilment derived from the experience will fuel your desire to find opportunities to give back in whatever ways you can.
About the e-Payment Learning Journey
Launched by IMDA in May 2018, the e-Payment Learning Journey is designed to be an experiential tour for seniors aged 50 and above. Volunteers guide the seniors to make digital transactions using their mobile phone and teach them useful cyber security tips. Every e-Payment Learning Journey takes about three hours where seniors learn how to e-pay using QR code, transfer funds via e-payment apps and top-up MRT cards via e-payment modes.
Know of someone who need help to embark on their digital learning journey? Visit www.imda.gov.sg/IMSilver
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