Voluntary charter formulated with the aim of making banking services more accessible to senior citizens
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a marked impact on the lives of senior citizens in Israel, in terms of physical distance from family members and the natural environment, social distancing, a sense of isolation, and difficulty in obtaining various essential services.
In order to help this population group deal with the challenges of obtaining various banking services, the Ministry of Social Equality and Pensioners, the Banking Supervision Department, the Association of Banks in Israel, and the banking system have formulated a voluntary charter to make banking services more accessible to senior citizens during the pandemic.
The measures detailed in the charter come in addition to measures taken during routine times to assist senior citizens in accessing banking services. Each bank will, of course, be able to offer senior citizens additional measures in accordance with its business and social considerations, beyond the measures detailed in this charter.
Social Equality and Pensioners Minister Merav Cohen said, “First, I thank the Banking Supervision Department and the Association of Banks in Israel for formulating this important charter. The banks provide essential services to the elderly population, and during the COVID-19 period, going to bank branches has become dangerous for this population group. Furthermore, there has been a clear trend in recent years of closing bank branches and moving to digital services, which makes it difficult for a large portion of the elderly population that are unaccustomed to making transactions online. In view of this, we held an extended conversation with the management of the banking system, and established cooperation between the Bank of Israel, the Association of Banks and the Ministry of Social Equality. The charter is an initial joint step, and I hope that together, we will constantly expand our actions and make more adjustments for our elderly population. It is very important to maintain the independence of the elderly, and that they can obtain services without being dependent on another person to help them. We would be pleased to respond to anyone who experiences difficulties, and we will do all we can to create solutions.”
Supervisor of Banks Yair Avidan said, “This charter anchors the specially adjusted service standard for the senior population, and joins various other processes adopted by the banks for this population group. The Banking Supervision Department will continue putting special emphasis on the challenges facing senior citizens in obtaining various banking services during the COVID-19 crisis and afterwards, and will help as much as possible to make things easier for them. I thank Minister Cohen for the cooperation on behalf of senior citizens, and I commend the Association of Banks in Israel and the banking system for their dedication in implementing the charter.”
Association of Banks in Israel Director General Eitan Madmon said, “On behalf of the banking system, I thank the Ministry of Social Equality and the Banking Supervision Department for their fruitful cooperation in improving and targeting the service provided to the senior population. As with the rest of the world and other sectors, the banking system has in recent years experienced accelerated digital development for the benefit of its customers. Alongside these welcome changes, we are aware that elderly customers are naturally finding it difficult to absorb technological developments. This charter is an important step among the many steps taken by all the banks to improve service to senior citizens. The banking system will do all it can so that those finding it difficult to adapt to the changes are not left behind. It’s our duty.”
The following are the main points of the new services agreed upon as part of the charter that will take effect on January 13, 2021. The full charter appears as an appendix to this notice.
1. Each bank will provide various alternatives to make banking services more accessible, in accordance with the needs of senior citizens. These include a mobile branch in locations that typically have concentrations of elderly citizens, and sending services to their homes or nearby.
2. The banks will improve the telephone response given to senior citizens by creating a dedicated extension for seniors or by creating a mechanism through which preference is given in the call center’s automatic call routing system. The caller will be able to receive a rapid response based on identification using only basic and easily remembered items, and without typing in a PIN number. The aim is to make it easier for elderly customers who sometimes cannot remember their PIN number and therefore have difficulty in gaining preference for a phone response.
3. The banks will enable customers aged 70 and over to be given preference in line at physical bank branches. (The existing law exempts those over 80 from waiting in line.)
4. The training program for new bank employees will include training regarding senior citizens and the importance of service that is adapted to their needs. The content of the training program will be built in conjunction with the Banking Supervision Department and the Ministry of Social Equality.
5. The link between the Ministry of Social Equality’s call center, *8840, and the banks’ call centers will be tightened. This will include direct contact with the center to provide a high-quality rapid response to calls from senior citizens. Through this channel, calls coming from the center will be given priority and will be handled as quickly as possible by the banks. In addition, employees of the senior citizen’s call center will be given training by representatives of the banking system regarding banking services and the rights of seniors.
6. The banking system’s financial education forum will provide the Ministry of Social Equality and the general public with explanatory materials geared toward senior citizens. These materials will contain information on making banking transactions remotely by digital means and on increasing awareness regarding proper activity on the Internet. They will also contain recommendations to improve how personal details are kept and to prevent their misuse.
7. Each bank is responsible for notifying its senior citizen customers about the variety of banking rights and benefits available to them, in the way the customer generally receives notices from the bank, and for publishing such information on a dedicated page on the bank’s website.