As digital technology progressively takes over the banking world banks and Whanganui organisations are re-doubling their efforts to help the elderly and technologically-challenged.
Banks are phasing out cheques as a payment method, the Co-operative Bank has gone cashless and government services are increasingly offered only online, or online first.
Covid-19 restrictions have made banking more difficult, and restricted hours at some banks.
Older people who are housebound or without internet access are disadvantaged.
Whanganui East resident Arnold (Andy) Waters has always paid his annual house insurance in full, by cheque, and gets a discount. This year State Insurance will only take the money digitally.
Luckily for Waters, his son uses the internet.
"I had to go to the boy to pay it. He paid it, and I paid him. If I was on my own, I would be stranded," he said.
Waters is housebound, can't get his head around computers, and said cheques are essential to his generation.
"We have always used cheques for everything. If they're not going to accept them, they're going to leave us older people high and dry."
Aramoho resident Fiona Donne doesn't have a device with internet connection.
"I have just decided I am not going to do it. I don't want to be forced into having a computer in my house," she said.
She pays for lawn mowing and makes donations to charity using cheques, but her ANZ bank will not be issuing cheque books after November.
A world where money transactions are only digital will be extra vulnerable to hackers, she believes.
SeniorNet and Age Concern have both been teaching older people how to use new technology, and the Citizens' Advice Bureau (CAB) has launched a campaign against the wider issue of digital exclusion by government agencies.
The campaign asks that people can continue communicating with government agencies face to face, by telephone, through an agent and on paper. Those without internet access have been asking the CAB to help them, and it wants compensation for this extra work.
Age Concern Whanganui manager Michelle Malcolm said the number of older people who need help with internet technology has increased with Covid-19.
"The expectation that everyone gets onto the internet and everyone has a device is a huge concern."
Age Concern is having one on one sessions to teach smartphone use and internet banking. About 80 people have also had sessions with Whanganui City College students, and she hopes to resume those.
With the Whanganui Volunteer Centre she is organising tuition sessions at banks, starting on September 21. Learners will bring their own devices to banks on particular days, and they must register by phoning Age Concern of the Whanganui Volunteer Centre.
Older people can ask others to use their cards and withdraw money, but this is not advisable, Malcolm said.
Getting older people up to speed with internet use is taking more and more time for SeniorNet, chairman Terry Dowdeswell said.
Those wanting to learn about internet banking first have to understand some internet basics and have a device to use. Skinny Jump is a recommended internet provider, for those eligible.
SeniorNet has a four-week course on smartphone use for beginners, which is full.
It has internet banking classes for groups of about eight every few weeks, and also offers one to one tutorials of two and a half hours, costing $5 to $7.
SeniorNet plans to hold monthly banking issue sessions of about 10 people, fronted by an independent banking representative. They start on September 30 and people can register by ringing Dowdeswell on 027 351 6104.
One of the biggest issues for older people is a lack of trust in internet banking. That's ironic, he said, because banking is one of the safest things to do on the internet.
"Of all the things on the internet the banks are the most secure, because they can't afford not to be."
Banks the Chronicle talked to are all seeing cheque use decline, and teaching customers how to use other payment methods.
Cheque transactions make up less than one per cent of those at Westpac, for example. It intends to phase them out, but has not decided when.
Kiwibank discontinued cheques in February, and the BNZ will stop them in July next year.
Spokesman Sam Durbin said the BNZ is working with customers and stakeholders on alternative payment methods.
They include direct debits, automatic payments and direct credits, and can be set up and managed through telephone banking and internet banking, through the BNZ app or in person on the phone, at a branch or at a smart ATM.