Many older people feel alienated and marginalised by technology.
“Wonderfully convenient” fingerprint identification is the latest in a growing list of technologies that isolate the elderly, says consumer journalist Wendy Knowler.
Most people’s fingerprints have largely worn away by the time they reach their 70s.
Fran Kinnear (77) wrote to Knowler to say that when she applied for her passport last month, officials couldn’t get fingerprints from her.
They told her to get a "Third Party Letter”, enabling someone else with fingerprints to collect her passport on her behalf when it was ready.
Kinnear chose her daughter as a third party and drafted the letter.
The scanner required to scan the Third-Party Letter through to Head Office was out of action and nothing could be done for us. I have since phoned Home Affairs in Estcourt (where all of this took place) and am told the machine should be repaired in early October. Since my present passport expires on 27 September this leaves me with no travel document.
Kinnear argues that Home Affairs should adopt another way of identification for older people.
We are currently developing a new Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) with multi-modal biometrics - fingerprints, facial recognition, iris, DNA and palm print. This will resolve huge challenges faced by the categories of people you are referring to as well as amputees. We are at the tail end of development and the system will also power the eGates system at airports to enable passengers to process themselves. Currently, such applications go to the back office for manual verification by fingerprints and facial recognition experts.
Thulani Mavuso, Acting Director General - Department of Home Affairs
Just not at the Estcourt Home Affairs department in KZN, laments Knowler.
The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield asked Knowler to discuss Kinnear’s struggles and those of other older people “marginalised for being born in a pre-computer age”.
One major bank has closed about 90 branches countrywide. If other banks follow suit, many elderly people, among others, will be massively prejudiced. Are the banks doing enough to bring them on board, to help them load apps on to their phones, and help them feel comfortable using them? Or talk them through cellphone banking?
Wendy Knowler, consumer journalist
Knowler spoke to Banking Ombud Reana Steyn, who said that a disproportionate number of older bank clients are victims of various forms of bank fraud.
In the first three months of 2019, 58% of the bank clients who fell prey to credit card fraud were older than 61 while 11% were older than 80.
For more detail, listen to the interview in the audio below.