Virtual Banking: Singapore’s OCBC Digital Silvers Program to Equip Elderly with Modern Financial Skills

OCBC Bank (SGX: O39) will be ramping up its Digital Silvers program with the aim of upskilling 2,000 elderly customers from now until the end of the year.

Given this ambitious target, the bank will “increase the frequency of its workshops from around twice a month to thrice a week.”

In addition, it will “leverage all 30 of its personal banking branches islandwide to do so, up from the 10 heartland branches that have been part of the programme thus far.”

To date, the program has already “benefited more than 300 elderly customers since its launch in September last year.” Given this enthusiastic response, the bank is “well on its way to achieving its initial target of 400 elderly customers by June 2023 – a goal announced during the program’s launch.”

OCBC Digital Silvers is “a one-on-one training programme for elderly customers aged 60 years and above.”

Its curriculum was designed “to help the silver segment learn how to bank and pay digitally, and to stay safe from scams while doing so.”

The program has been well-received thus far. In a survey among past participants, 97 per cent stated “that they were satisfied or very satisfied with the workshops, citing the effectiveness of the one-on-one format, staff’s knowledge and patience, and usefulness of the curriculum.”

The average age of participants last year “was 67, and 3 in 5 opted for Mandarin-speaking staff to guide them through the workshop.”

Based on these statistics, the Bank has taken care “to ensure there are sufficient staff to cater to this demographic, recruiting additional volunteers from across the bank with the requisite language skills for more heavily subscribed workshops.”

The curriculum for the Digital Silvers Program “has been refreshed – and will continuously be updated – to meet the needs of customers.”

For instance, a segment on fixed deposits “has been added to the curriculum given increased demand fueled by rising interest rates.”

By teaching attendees how to make fixed deposit placements digitally, they will “have an even more convenient alternative to coming to the branch.”

In Q1 2023, just over 20% of fixed deposit placements” by elderly customers aged 60 years and above were done digitally.” Though this was a marked increase compared to Q1 2022, where just 5% of such placements by elderly customers were digital, “this number can still be improved on.”

In comparison, 55% of those under 60 “placed fixed deposits digitally in Q1 2023.”

This new segment “augments the core curriculum of OCBC Digital Silvers, which consists of everyday digital banking and payment skills including a step-by-step walkthrough of the OCBC Digital app, and how to make QR Code payments and PayNow transfers.”

The core curriculum was “developed based on an analysis of branch data; almost 1 in every 3 customers who walk into an OCBC Bank branch for over-the-counter teller transactions today is aged 60 and above, and the top two reasons for their branch visits are cash withdrawals and deposits – basic banking services that could be reduced or replaced by digital payments.”

Based on feedback, and to expand the curriculum further, the Bank has also “launched a website:”

Short videos covering topics “such as checking one’s account balance or making PayNow transfers have been uploaded to the website to reinforce what has been taught during the workshop, and it will continuously be updated with relevant informative video guides.”

The website will be “available in both English and Mandarin, while the videos will come in Mandarin and dialect versions by the end of May.”

Customers can also go to the website, to sign up for a workshop and choose the language that they would like to be taught in.”

Workshop dates open two months in advance “so that customers can find the timings and branches that best suit their schedules.”

Customers can also sign up for workshops at any OCBC branch.

Mr Sunny Quek, OCBC Bank’s Head of Global Consumer Financial Services, said:

“The expanded OCBC Digital Silvers programme is our way of ensuring that everyone can keep up with the digital push. Every branch will run at least one workshop every two months. This means that the elderly living near these branches have ample chances to participate – if they cannot make the date for one, they can go to their next nearest branch or wait a few more weeks for the workshop to return to their branch of choice. Customers can also come in for refreshers to reinforce their learning or learn more complicated digital banking functions.”

He added:

“Such programs demonstrate the importance and relevance of the physical branch even as digital banking becomes the new normal. The branch continues to be a space for complex conversations about wealth, but it is also an avenue to serve the community and ensure that no one gets left behind in the journey to acquire these lifelong digital skills.”

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