Mon | Aug 10, 2020

Online banking frustrates St Thomas seniors

Published:Saturday | July 11, 2020 | 12:16 AMShanna Monteith/Gleaner Writer

Several elderly residents in St Thomas are bemoaning the recent changes implemented under the digital transformation initiative being undertaken by banks in the parish.

The changes, according to the citizens, have been posing numerous challenges to the way they bank and carry out their businesses.

Speaking with The Gleaner, 82-year-old entrepreneur Jeremiah Walker said there needs to be an alternative for elderly people to continue conducting their transactions seamlessly.

“We are not saying that they shouldn’t go online, but three quarters of the older people can’t go. Even myself, I’m 82 and when you go into the bank to see sometimes what’s happening, some of them can’t even swipe the card that they have. So how are they going to go online? They can’t.

“We’re not stopping them from going online, but we’re asking the Government to find an alternative for us,” he pleaded, adding that senior citizens in the parish are willing to stage a peaceful protest, should their appeals go unanswered.

Walker, who operates a construction business and a cable company, revealed that some of his fellow elderly residents are reluctant to have other people conduct their banking transactions.

“Some of the older folks don’t know how to use the ATMs and sometimes they are afraid to let their families handle their accounts, because they will draw out the money,” he said.

Another senior businessman, Franklyn Sepheftine, said that adequate steps have not been made to sensitise retirees about the changes.

“The bank has taken some steps to implement this policy as of the first of July, and so the senior citizens are frustrated. They don’t know what to do and they are not getting a straight argument as to how their concerns are going to be met. People are standing outside in the sun just to access the machine which they have to use now to get to their account, and it is really causing a lot of frustration,” he divulged.

The recent changes to the banking procedures were discussed by councillors on Thursday during the monthly meeting of the St Thomas Municipal Corporation.

Councillor for the White Horses division, Hubert Williams, shared that a letter was sent to the Ministry of Finance, outlining concerns about the new ‘cashless’ system.

He noted that, though the ministry acknowledged receipt of same, they have not addressed the concerns.

“At this time, St Thomas in particular is not ready for a cashless system. The Internet here is very poor. We do not have enough ATMs and, every weekend, they run out of money in St Thomas,” he said.

“When you look at the banks throughout the days, the lines are so long; inside the bank is empty, but there is a long line outside. I don’t know how the seniors will cope with this new system,” he added.