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Over-65s double online payments since lockdown

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Online shopping is booming among the over-65s with new figures showing they have doubled the amount they use internet retailers since this time last year.

While the proportion of online payments has risen in all age groups since the start of the lockdown, older generations in particular have seen their internet spending rise to 40 per cent of transactions from just 20 per cent a year ago.

The figures from Halifax may also reflect the fact that the over-65s are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus and have been told to maintain social distancing and stay indoors as much as possible.

Electronic payments across age groups have been consistently rising year-on-year, but Chancellor Rishi Sunak was warned in February to maintain the cash economy as many people are still reliant on it, particularly the elderly.

But current lockdown conditions have forced changes to the way people shop, with cash seen as a potential vector for spreading the virus. The contactless limit was raised to £45 in March with retailers slowly adapting their systems to the new limit since its introduction.

Halifax found that nearly half of debit card transactions made in recent weeks have been online when looking at customer debit card spending data between the start of the coronavirus lockdown on 23 March and 19 April.

Overall, 46 per cent of transactions were made online since the stricter social distancing measures were introduced compared to just 27 per cent a year earlier.

Halifax also said it has seen record numbers of over-65s signing up to online banking with registrations surging by 63 per cent when compared with the 28 days immediately before.

Over-65s have also continued to increase their contactless payments throughout the pandemic, the week before lockdown, 54 per cent of card payments made by this age group were contactless compared to 62 per cent a month later.

Halifax managing director Russell Galley said: “The surge in online payments and demand for internet banking is primarily driven by the unprecedented situation many people currently find themselves in.

“When we look at this across different age groups, we have seen a much greater shift amongst those aged over 65.”

Gareth Shaw, head of money at Which?, said: “While it’s encouraging that more people are looking at new ways to bank as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, there are still huge numbers of consumers who are not yet ready or able to make digital payments.

“It’s vital that these people are supported through this crisis, so banks and businesses must not abandon them by shunning cash completely.

“The Government committed to legislation to ensure consumers have access to cash for as long as they need it. It must move quickly before that access disappears completely.”

Last week, panel research from the Entertainment Retailers Association found that people over the age of 55 are now the fastest-growing group of new users on music-streaming platforms like Spotify, Amazon Prime Music and YouTube Music. 

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