How we helped our 95-year-old grandmother get tech-savvy

With cheques soon to be a thing of the past, more and more Kiwis are doing their banking online.

But for those who may be a bit less tech-savvy, the world of online banking can be intimidating. 

Louisa Brock leads Westpac NZ's Extra Care Programme and says people – especially family members – are the key to helping people feel comfortable with going digital.

"My 95 year old Momma Jean, is eager to keep up with the times and doesn't want to be left behind. Momma's key way to bank was using cheques; she used them to pay bills, pay her annual bowling fees, donate to her favourite charities, give her 13 grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren some birthday money," Brock explained.

"Momma was really excited about us grandkids teaching her about internet banking and as the banker in the family, it was up to me to help her with some online banking lessons."

Brock said it was important to make the online experience feel welcoming and friendly from the very beginning, creating a relaxed mood for the 95-year-old soon-to-be online banker.

"The first thing the family did was a shopping trip and brought her an iPad. It took a few lessons for Momma to feel comfortable using online banking and we also set up her bill payees like the bowls club and her charities meaning she can still help support those charities close to her heart," Brock said.

And, it's this kind of experience that Brock and her colleagues at Westpac want everyone to have when they transition to online banking platforms.

Customers can book one-on-one time with banking staff at their local branch to run through their options, whether it be some tech training, or exploring other ways to bank such as phone banking or using one of Westpac's specialised services for the blind or hard of hearing.

"While not every family can afford an iPad, any customer with a landline or a mobile phone can do their banking in their own time. And if they need help, Westpac’s patient and helpful staff are only ever a phone call away," Brock said.

"We partner with SeniorNet offering seminars on how to use our website and app, should someone want to head back to class."

Brock's efforts to assist her Momma with the task of transitioning to online banking is the perfect example of what needs to happen as a new generation becomes familiar with banking on the internet.

"Whether it's a family member, an evening class or a chat with your local Westpac banking team, the important thing is treating people like people and guiding them through the experience one step at a time," Brock said.


Momma Jean with granddaughter Louisa Brock.
Momma Jean with granddaughter Louisa Brock.

“Going digital was a breath of fresh air for Momma, and as we found ourselves in and out of lockdowns it’s also been a key way of her feeling close to family and keeping her finances in order,” she said.

It truly is four generations of support for Louisa’s family. “My mum, Christine, visits Momma most days so she’s close by to support her especially to educate momma on potential scams.” 

"My daughter, Hazel, is seven and is quicker than all of us on the iPad, but Momma is giving her a run for her money these days."

Brock says Westpac’s Extra Care Programme team is always working to improve the way the bank helps customers who need more help with their financial needs. 

"That means ensuring we have appropriate processes, products and services in place that can help make their banking easier."

This article was created for Westpac NZ