The checkbook generation hasn’t fallen off a cliff yet

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EDITORIAL: Look at the language used to explain Kiwibank’s reasoning for abandoning checks from the end of February next year.

Verify that the use is “fallen off a cliff”. It is a “twilight technology” which provides “declining service” requiring “outdated” technology which “is coming to the end of its useful life”.

This is all true. But it will be difficult for late checkbook users, many of whom are elderly, not to take these phrases personally, as they suggest values ​​that are increasingly applied throughout their lives.

As if they had been bypassed by all that is deemed smarter and superior, and would be doing the rest of the world a service by simply stepping out of the way.

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While the bank may say less than 1% of its transactions are by check, that’s about 5,400 customers and it’s highly likely that other banks will follow suit. The disturbance is therefore not negligible in terms of scale.

Or fear.

This presents a real and potentially painful challenge for a small group of people who steadfastly resisted the new methodologies when they were optional, but now find they have no choice. Much like bank branch closures, many communities are remembered with lingering bitterness.

Of course, many will find that they can do very well. But that still leaves a lot of vulnerability there.

Some of the check users are traditional bluffers who know how the digital world works, thank you very much, but have their own preferences. Among the others, there are those who are seriously discouraged; people whose most memorable experiences of the digital age are perhaps when they tried to tap a computer which then displayed a traumatic ad that they had “performed an illegal transaction” – so they stopped things as best they could, left, and waited for the police to knock on the door.

Seniors Minister Tracey Martin is right to be concerned about the level of support seniors will need if they have to write checks. Besides, a legion of adult children will worry about their mothers, their fathers, their grandparents and perhaps their neighbors without support.

The bank says customers who have used checks more than five times in the past year will receive “personal” letters. He’s embarked on an initiative called Stepping UP, offering free banking workshops in places like libraries, schools, and community centers – not to mention warm-sounding technical teas in branches across the country, where people can learn about internet and telephone banking, eftpos, branch withdrawals and ATMs.

Personal contact and advice will be very important, especially for people unlikely to be comforted when offered advice on how to use the computer they don’t have, the smartphone they don’t have. they do not have and regardless of the application.

Kiwibank is taking action that is commercially justifiable but must be carried out with exquisite care – and it is not the same as rapid bureaucratic efficiency. This will require real, sincere and resourced commitment at a level of personal contact for which banks, in these inhuman times, are not widely celebrated.


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