School of Computing


Digital Economy "Research in the Wild": New Approaches to banking for the older old


At the time of the 2001 census there were 2.4m people aged 80 or more in the UK. Life expectancy at age 80 is now 9 years for men and 11 for women. In this age cohort there are those who both voluntarily and involuntarily exclude themselves from the functionality and fraud interventions offered by modern banking. Explanations for this can be diverse, for instance having no experience of owning a bank account, the perception of losing control of finances to unfamiliar technologies, or pragmatic reasons such as a lack of mobility and increased dependence on others. It is clear that banks do not support the older to manage finances in a way that balances functionality and security as long as is cognitively possible.


In this project we have conducted a detailed study of the 'eighty-somethings' to understand their experiences of managing money in the past and the present. We continuously work with groups of older people and their representatives in this age group via a number of methods that range from conventional field study techniques such as interviews, focus groups and role play, also new participatory design techniques based around low cost but high fidelity concept designs.

The project does not take a 'corrective' standpoint but rather seeks to understand why technology is not suitable in particular situations and ultimately pursue the development of user-centred solutions. Developing technologies that reconnect the digital and physical worlds is one means of addressing the gap in functionality, but we are also interested in developing provocative prototype of real-world services that can reconnect older people with the benefits of modern banking yet support their processes of trust and money management

Particular avenues of current research include the area of cheque replacement, and also mechanisms to provide biometric protected reminders of knowledge-based authentication credentials. In addition we are working to lobby policy holders and banks regarding our findings to stimulate legislative change to strengthen protection against phenomena such as financial abuse.

Collaborators: Prof. Andrew Monk (PI) and Prof. John Clark, Prof. Mark Blythe (Northumbria University), Dr. Jayne Wallace (Northumbria University)