Big rise in over-65s shopping and banking online and making contactless payments

Nearly half of debit card transactions made in recent weeks have been online, according to a bank’s analysis of its customers’ spending habits.

Halifax looked at customer debit card spending data between the start of the coronavirus lockdown on March 23 and April 19.

It revealed that the over-65s are driving much of the recent increase it has seen in the proportion of online transactions – with this age group also increasingly turning to online banking and contactless payments.

Halifax found that 46% of transactions had been made online since the stricter social distancing measures were introduced.

A year earlier, just one in four (27%) transactions were being made online, edging up to 28% in February 2020.

While all age groups have increased the proportion of transactions made online rather than face to face, among over-65s the proportion has doubled, from 20% a year ago to 40%.

Halifax said it has seen record numbers of over-65s signing up to online banking.

In the 28 days after lockdown was introduced, online registrations by over-65s surged by 63% when compared with the 28 days immediately before.

Over-65s have continued to increase their contactless payments throughout the pandemic.

The week before lockdown, 54% of card payments made by this age group were contactless. A month later, this had increased to 62%.

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.”

While many over-65s have been embracing new ways to pay, concerns have also been raised that Covid-19 could hasten the decline of cash use generally and increase the risk that some people who rely on cash are left behind.

Some providers have initiatives in place such as “ask a friend” schemes which enable vulnerable people to ask a trusted friend to withdraw cash on their behalf.