Snippet: There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the accelerated adoption of mobile and online banking faster than anyone could have anticipated. Numerous studies have attested to this, for example, as of July 2020, 14.2 million Americans had selected a digital-only bank to be their primary account holder. That’s a 67% jump from January 2020.

There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the accelerated adoption of mobile and online banking faster than anyone could have anticipated. Numerous studies have attested to this, for example, Fidelity National Information Services (FIS) reported a 200% jump in new mobile banking registrations in April of 2020 when pandemic-related lockdowns were widespread. Additionally, as of July 2020, 14.2 million Americans — 6% of U.S. adults with a checking account — had selected a digital-only bank to be their primary account holder, according to Cornerstone Advisors. That’s a 67% jump from January 2020.

Missing out on an obvious opportunity

In the rush to meet customer needs, the digitization efforts of financial institutions have understandably centered on creating mobile app experiences that resonate with the Gen Z and Millennial generations. They are, after all, tech savvy and more likely to adopt digital banking. They also expect frictionless, personalized and secure experiences of a certain quality, and have no compunction in changing banks if they feel their needs are not being met, processes are too lengthy or there’s another bank with far cooler tech. But, as important as these younger generation groups are, financial institutions still have large numbers of older consumers who seemed to have been overlooked during this focused and rapid transformation to digital banking.

Before the pandemic required us to embrace all things digital, many among the older generation were reluctant to make the change. The reasons for this have long been attributed to fear, mistrust, a perceived lack of their own technical ability or a preference to speak to an actual person. Whether these reasons are valid or not, the events of the past eight months have forced their hand. A study by Zelle showed that since the start of the pandemic, 82% of seniors are banking online more frequently, and 55% are using mobile banking more often.

Beware of generational typecasting

It’s never been more important to understand the attitudes, behaviors and needs of consumers, which means not placing too much trust in demographic stereotypes because they’re not always true. Not all older consumers are uncomfortable using digital technology. Over the years, more older adults than ever have adopted smartphones, 90% of people in the 55–75-year-old range are active on Facebook, and three-quarters of internet-using seniors go online every day. And, since the pandemic began, increasing numbers of adults aged 65 and older are using Zoom and other videoconferencing tools to connect with family and friends. With this in mind, can financial institutions continue to assume that older consumers are not willing to at least try digital banking, and in the process potentially miss out on an opportunity to grow their base of digital newcomers by expanding their digital offerings to cater to older customers’ more complex financial services needs and address their concerns?

For some among the older demographics, certain factors outweigh the benefits and convenience of digital banking services. A lack of confidence in security (30%) is a significant hurdle. Unfortunately, this fear is understandable. Scammers’ techniques are becoming increasingly sophisticated as new channels through which to bank are made available. Financial institutions, however, have an opportunity to engage customers by addressing this fear – one of the main findings from our 2019 Customer Authentication Study series in collaboration with was that almost all respondents wanted some extra control over authentication, especially transaction-specific authentication, to make them feel more secure.

Usability problems (20%) and a lack of trust in their own ability add to older consumers’ reticence in adopting digital channels. They may have tried using online banking channels, but found them too difficult to navigate, and the fear of making an expensive error caused them to simply abandon the process. What is surprising is that many Millennial and Gen Z consumers also cite usability reasons for not using mobile banking apps (more on that next month!). By understanding what consumers of all ages want, it’s possible for financial institutions to cater to the needs of older generations without alienating their younger client base.

A great user experience for all ages

Ease, efficiency and speed are key to a great user experience for consumers of any demographic. A digital-first solution provides a logical and simply designed path to follow with, for example, icons and personalization options, so a user can tailor their journey to their needs and preferences. Frequently used services that help solve problems — such as quick balance checks and transaction filters — should be upfront and intuitive to navigate.

Simplifying payments is another way to improve ease of use, especially since depositing checks remotely has become much more common. With multiple options to choose from, consumers expect the safest and most convenient ways to pay to be available, all in one place with a consistent user experience. They don’t want to know about the technicalities; they just want it to work.

Central to making consumers feel safer is trust — often a complex undertaking when trying to deliver simple, intuitive user experiences. The good news is that security and convenience are not mutually exclusive if solutions are built with the user front of mind.

Banks should use modern technology to build trust with consumers and further cement relationships. Read: Smarter digital banking experiences for the intelligence age

By offering smarter, more relevant services, and providing support and advice so customers can interact how and when they want, financial institutions can ease the progression to this digital lifestyle and empower customers of all ages to bank with confidence.

Cross-channel customer journeys call for a robust customer authentication solution. Download our solution sheet to find out how we can help you drive engagement, enable cross-channel innovation, and reduce the costs associated with fraud across multiple channels. Contact us to book a demo today.

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Christian Ali

Christian Ali


Christian’s experience building high-performance technical and business teams and launching award-winning payments and authentication solutions puts him in good stead to steer Entersekt’s product strategy and roadmap. He previously served as Entersekt’s Canada country manager.

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Entersekt is an innovator of customer-centric fintech solutions. Financial services providers and other enterprises rely on our patented mobile identity system to provide both security and the best in convenient new digital experiences to their customers, irrespective of the service channel. With us, they can concentrate on their innovation roadmap, while delivering intuitive, low-friction digital experiences to their customers.