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Pandemic prompts local seniors to embrace online banking

'It appears this could be the new way of doing things,' says retired Barrie principal who has adapted to online banking since COVID-19 hit

With more day-to-day chores being done online, many Baby Boomers and seniors are beginning to see the benefits to being fluent in online banking.

Roxy McDonald, a retired Barrie high school teacher, didn't want anything to do with online banking before COVID-19.

“I kept thinking if I were to send a large amount of money into the deep Web and lose it for good, I’d probably cry,” said McDonald. “I was completely comfortable just going into the bank and doing what I needed to do.”

That changed when the current health crisis hit; McDonald, 63, began to worry about catching the virus just by being out. Since the government lockdown began in mid-March, McDonald has been out just four times for errands.

“I am taking this whole thing very seriously and besides the occasional walk, I really don’t go out,” said McDonald. “I had to learn fast how to do things online and my bank assisted with it to where I am very good at it now.”

McDonald does her banking with Meridian and credits their help and teaching with getting her to step out of her thinking that she was a “Boomer and didn’t have it growing up.”

“I really stress to all seniors and people who have never used the online banking to call their institution and get help with it. I did and they walked me through every bit of it to where I am becoming a real pro at it.”

Seniors account for nearly one-third of Meridian’s membership base, said Wanita Fonseka, their vice president of retail member experience.

Fonseka told BarrieToday that “COVID has accelerated the use of Meridian’s online and mobile banking platforms among senior members by 10 and 15 per cent.” She said digital ambassadors are assigned to assist clients who need to get set up to bank online or access mobile banking. 

McDonald knows there is a level of fear associated with handling money online but said it is a great opportunity to speak to the younger generation and learn all about it.

“As a teacher, I was around when computers and the Internet first came into the schools. I didn’t have a clue how to use it and it was only the kids who knew all about it,” said McDonald. “They didn't want to spend extra time with a teacher and help us for free, as you can imagine. The folks at your bank know everything about it and want to help, don’t be afraid to ask.”

McDonald advises people to start slowly, setting up recipients in your contact list, anyone you may regularly send money to. Then, when you’re comfortable, send a small amount of money to a family member or friend.

“I pay hydro so they went into my contacts, as did anyone else I pay monthly,” said McDonald. “Then I sent $50 to someone, instead of $1,000, just to make sure I knew how to e-transfer,” said McDonald.

“It appears this could be the new way of doing things, and every generation has had to deal with change, and we have always got through it just fine.”

Shawn Gibson

About the Author: Shawn Gibson

Shawn Gibson is a staff writer based in Barrie
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