Two spokespersons from India’s leading banks discuss their initiatives to empower senior citizen customers:
Recognizing the importance of engaging and serving senior citizens, banks in India have implemented various strategies and initiatives to address their unique needs. One such example is Bank of Baroda, which has introduced tailored financial products and services, like the ‘Senior Citizen Privilege Savings Account’ to cater to the financial requirements of senior citizens. The financial needs of senior citizens differ from those of younger customers, and hence, it is natural to have specialized financial offerings to cater to their needs.
South Indian Bank has been in operation for 94 years, and as a result, many of its customers have grown with the bank in terms of their age and wealth. Over time, a significant number of the bank’s existing customers have become senior citizens, and through their referrals, the bank has attracted a steady stream of similar customers.
Harikumar L, the General Manager for Retail Banking at South Indian Bank, explains that the bank has been acquiring customers from different age groups, ranging from students to the youth, salaried and self-employed individuals, as well as senior citizens. The bank’s relationship with senior citizens is especially strong, as they have not only increased their business share with the bank but have also referred their children and grandchildren to the bank with them.
Digital initiatives for senior citizens
Bank of Baroda has taken several steps to make their physical branches and digital banking platforms more accessible and user-friendly for senior citizens. These steps include an ergonomic design, larger text, and easy-to-use interfaces on their mobile and online banking applications.
The Mirror+ mobile application offered by the South Indian Bank has also proved to be popular with senior citizens, who have shown enthusiasm in using digital services. According to Harikumar, the initial usage was to check account balances and verify transactions. However, senior citizens have also embraced the security feature of instantly locking and unlocking their accounts through the mobile app, which gives them a sense of comfort.
Harikumar dives deeper: “Senior citizens have become comfortable with performing more complex activities such as creating deposits online, submitting Form 15G/H, paying electricity/water bills, and recharging mobile phones. South Indian Bank expects to see digital engagement with senior citizens increasing even further, with future plans to introduce WhatsApp banking to make the initial steps towards digital adoption simpler and easier.”
South Indian Bank has observed variations in routine financial and non-financial transactions among different income levels. For more complex requirements such as overseas remittance, investments, and donations, the bank has noticed higher usage among individuals with higher income levels, as per their specific requirements and preferences.
Harikumar mentions that the bank pays close attention to feedback from senior citizens and implements appropriate modifications and additions to their digital platform to enhance the overall customer experience. As a result of this feedback, it has made several improvements, including making their mobile app available in 8 different languages, allowing customers to lock their accounts with just one click, optimizing the placement of tabs, increasing the font size, enabling periodic KYC updates via the mobile app, and allowing customers to log in using facial recognition technology. All these enhancements have been specifically tailored to meet the unique needs and requirements of senior citizens.
Bank of Baroda also provides priority services to senior citizens to make banking more convenient for them. This includes dedicated counters at branches and customer support lines to reduce waiting times and provide prompt assistance. The bank’s doorstep banking services is another initiative to service senior citizens through identified centers by providing 14 banking services from the doorstep of their homes. Bank of Baroda offers various discounts and incentives for senior citizen customers, such as reduced fees on certain banking services.
A spokesperson at BOB said: “Doorstep banking services is also one of the key initiatives towards servicing our senior citizen customers through identified centers by providing 14 banking services from the doorstep of their homes. From time to time, we offer free doorstep banking services to senior citizens. We offer various discounts and incentives for senior citizen customers, such as reduced fees on certain banking services.”
Bank of Baroda offers additional ROI of 0.5% up to 3 years, 0.65% for 3-5 years and 1% for 5-10 years over card rate on fixed deposit accounts of senior citizens. It has added 35,274 accounts under its specialized SB scheme for senior citizens in 2022-23. The bank has served approximately 16,000 senior citizen customers with doorstep banking services in the FY 2022-23.
BOB spokesperson adds: “We actively seek feedback from our senior citizen customers through surveys and in-branch feedback mechanisms to ensure that our services meet their evolving needs.”
South Indian Bank is building awareness about its digital facilities daily where branch resources demonstrate to senior citizens the ease of carrying out transactions through digital modes. Some of the bank customers prefer an assisted digital mode. The bank periodically communicates with customers regarding the security aspects of interacting through digital channels. Every month during branch level customer meetings, it showcases the digital facilities to further enhance digital literacy and clear any doubts that customers might have about usage of such channels.
Harikumar explains: “Specific products catering to the requirements of senior citizens are available in the savings and deposit product suite. In addition to this, we encourage the concept of family banking where account benefits accrue to all family members in Priority Banking. This is quite popular among senior citizens and has helped in qualitatively improving the customer base.”
In conclusion, senior citizens seem to be the goldmine that both public sector and private sector banks may be pursuing.