A generation of people are being left behind when it comes to banking as banks race to embrace new technology, according to Banking Ombudsman Deborah Battell.
Battell who steps down as the ombudsman today said one of her biggest concerns not just for the industry but for society was that older people were being left vulnerable to financial abuse because they couldn't keep up with changing technology.
"Banking is developing and changing so fast. There are those that are being left behind. My particular concerns are for the elderly who find it so hard. They don't understand mobile technology."
Battell said the banks had a guideline for how they treated older people and those with disabilities but it needed updating.
"Banks have gone a fair way down the track of trying to lift financial capability but I would like to them to revisit some of the issues for the elderly."
Battell said New Zealand had a fast aging population and that meant there were increasing incidences of dementia.
"As a society we are going to have to do a lot to ensure elderly people are safe and can manage money well."
While future generations were technologically savvy she said in the mean time there would be a period of 10 to 20 years where some people were going to struggle.
As a society we are going to have to do a lot to ensure elderly people are safe and can manage money well.
But the head of the New Zealand Bankers' Association said he was confident banks were doing all they could to ensure older people had access to banking.
He said there was an industry focus group that met annually to discuss issues and the voluntary code had come out of that.
"It deals with the needs of older customers and those with disabilities. It is voluntary but most banks would meet the guidelines."
He did not believe the group needed to meet more often.
"Technology is not changing that fast."
Hope said all of the products that were available in the past were still available.
Asked how long cheques would still be around Hope said that was directly related to customer demand.
"If there is demand for it they will still be available."
He said technology was more about enabling more people to access banking without having to come into branch.
For those who could not come into a branch there was telephone banking.
"People don't have to do it on a computer."
While there may be a perception that banks were closing branches he said that was not the case.
Across the industry just 10 branches per year had shut on average for the last five years reducing from 1200 to 1150.
"It is not happening wholesale.
"Banks are no different to other businesses. It's about putting branches in place where they can do the most business.
"They might have closed a branch in one area but in all likelihood have opened in another area.