A matter of life and death: how the Covid-19 pandemic threw the spotlight on digital financial exclusion in the UK

Hara, Sukhvinder ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1859-1227, Whitney, Gill ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-3333-2154 and Whitney, Linda (2021) A matter of life and death: how the Covid-19 pandemic threw the spotlight on digital financial exclusion in the UK. In: Information Security Technologies for Controlling Pandemics. Jahankhani, Hamid, Kendzierskyj, Stefan and Akhgar, Babak, eds. Advanced Sciences and Technologies for Security Applications . Springer International Publishing, pp. 65-108. ISBN 9783030721190, e-ISBN 9783-030721206, pbk-ISBN 9783030721220. [Book Section] (doi:10.1007/978-3-030-72120-6_3)


Since the world's first ATM was unveiled in London in 1967, the deployment of digital financial services has exploded. However, the issue of access for vulnerable groups such as elderly people, people with disabilities, financially less well off people and the unbanked, has never been fully addressed. Then, in 2020, the COVID-19 lockdown threw a glaring spotlight on accessibility. For millions of vulnerable people, a trip outdoors to make a financial transaction could have life-threatening consequences. Digital financial services were vital lifelines for millions in the lockdown, but those unable to access them were severely disadvantaged. Financial services providers, deluged with requests for help from customers unable to access digital services, were brought face to face with the problem of poor accessibility. That makes this an excellent time to ask: “What problems do vulnerable people face in accessing digital financial services and what can UK financial services providers do about them?” This paper addresses that issue, drawing on in-depth qualitative and quantitative research carried out in 2018–2019 and selectively updated in June 2020. Data, interviews with organisations representing vulnerable people, and comments from vulnerable people themselves, provide a picture of the access problems that they face. The main finding is that financial services institutions still have insufficient knowledge about accessible systems and processes, and about user-demand for them. More work is expeditiously needed. This paper aims to help inform that work, so that financial services providers can offer services that turn a problem into an opportunity for both vulnerable people and service providers.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Computer Science
Item ID: 34801
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Depositing User: Sukhvinder Hara
Date Deposited: 25 Feb 2022 12:14
Last Modified: 25 Feb 2022 18:32
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/34801

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