Jung Hee-jung, a financial educator, teaches senior citizens how to use mobile banking during a program hosted by the Korea Federation of Banks in this undated photo. Courtesy of Jung Hee-jung

Imagine being handed a map of a city you’ve never visited before. At first, you may feel lost and overwhelmed, unsure of where to start. That experience is akin to what senior citizens in Korea experience as they try to adjust to digitalization, especially in the financial sector.

As an increasing number of financial institutions are ceasing operation of physical branches, not understanding the digital environment can lead older adults to become isolated from financial activities.

Even for those who are willing to learn, the barriers can be high.

“If the elderly ask their children for help, the children sometimes find it tiresome, urging them to visit physical branches instead. Even though some try to help them, children are not always so kind in their explanations, using difficult words that some elderly people find hard to understand. These experiences dent their confidence and make them shy away from learning about digitalization,” Jung Hee-jung, a financial educator, told The Korea Times.

What if those who understand the struggle and speak their language were to assist them instead?

That’s what the Korea Federation of Banks (KFB) tried from last October to March. Thirty-six selected financial educators, who were slightly younger but still close in age to the elderly, were dispatched to places such as community centers to teach the basics of digital finance. The course consists of eight sessions.

“When elderly people go to the bank and wait, wondering why their number hasn’t been called yet and why someone who arrived later is being served first 토토 and leaving quickly, it makes a big difference whether they understand what’s happening or just wait without knowing and enduring it. That’s why I tell them that we can also take control of our lives by learning digital finance,” Yoon Kyung-sung, another educator, said.

Yoon emphasized that she tries to encourage her students by explaining that mobile banking is not difficult, just unfamiliar to them. The education helps older adults, even those in their 80s or 90s, feel a greater sense of self-efficacy in society.

“One of my students has a grandson who had just started university. After attending the program, she wired some money to his account as a surprise gift. Her daughter and grandson were so surprised, and my student was very happy about that. For us, sending money through an app is not a remarkable thing. But for them, being able to do that empowers them,” Yoon said.

It can also help to prevent falling victim to financial exploitation and voice phishing, as an increasing number of older adults are targeted in such scams due to their lack of digital knowledge.

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