MADRID, 7 Nov. (EUROPA PRESS) -
Nearly 200,000 additional people in rural Spain will soon have an in-person access point to banking services, according to data from the Financial Inclusion Observatory consulted by Europa Press.
This observatory brings together the banking associations AEB, CECA and Unacc, which in October 2022 signed a protocol in which they committed to having an in-person access point to banking services in the 243 municipalities with more than 500 inhabitants that as of December 31 of 2021 they did not have any.
A year later, banking already has some access point - which can be ATMs, offices, offices, financial agents or post offices - in 158 of these municipalities where 138,757 people live. To this figure we must add another 20 municipalities in which ATMs are currently being installed, so the number of people benefiting rises to 155,829.
In addition, 39,957 people from 49 other municipalities will have an access point to cash in the near future, thanks to the processes already underway through bilateral conversations, agreements or public tenders.
The completion of these processes will allow reaching 93% of the 243 municipalities identified in the protocol and the 195,426 beneficiaries.
The holding of municipal and regional elections last May has sometimes meant a lengthening of the process due to the change of interlocutors, which has caused delays in the deadline established in October 2022.
It should be remembered that at that time the bank committed to ensuring within a period of six months at least one point of in-person access to banking services in all municipalities with more than 500 inhabitants and, if not achieved within that period, to install generic ATMs within an additional period of six months.
On the other hand, sources from the sector have told Europa Press that in conversations with public administrations they have been able to learn about the specific realities of rural populations, such that in some there was no demand for an access point. Thus, 16 municipalities with 18,000 inhabitants have declined the offer of public-private collaboration for the installation of an access point.
On the other hand, in other locations the deployments carried out to cover municipalities with less than 500 inhabitants have been taken advantage of.
Regarding the monitoring of the measures agreed in February 2022 to improve care for the elderly, in the first half of 2023 the percentage of offices has increased to 82.2% - compared to 81% at the end of 2022 - that provide in-person cashier service from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
In addition, 5.6 million seniors have benefited in the first half of the year from the measure of preferential treatment for this group in cases of high influx of public in the offices, while the telephone service, at no additional cost and through a personal interlocutor, has received more than 2 million calls from clients over 65 years of age between January and June, which represents on average more than two calls from people in this group.
The bank has continued to advance in the training of employees to offer attention more adapted to the older group, so that, during the first six months of the year, the number of employees trained has exceeded 36,800 and the number of hours of training has risen to 248,000.
More than 90% of entities without an office have a telephone service from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., a ratio that is maintained compared to the previous report, which analyzed 2022 data, while 90% of the sector has included improvements in its digital channels adapted to the needs of this group.
94% of the total ATM network of credit institutions - compared to 91% at the end of 2022 - has also included improvements to adapt to people over 65 years of age, which represents 36,000 ATMs in total.
Finally, the average time for correcting incidents at ATMs remains at one business day, which means improving the commitment signed in the decalogue of measures of February 2022, of two business days.
On the other hand, in the first quarter more than 277,000 clients were trained in financial, digital or fraud prevention matters, in line with the banking sector's commitment to financial and digital education and attention to the needs of older people, both in person and through the rest of the available channels.
In this sense, it is worth highlighting the 'Financial and Digital Classroom' initiative created in May 2022 by AEB, CECA and Unacc. As of today, this platform compiles nearly 400 financial and digital training actions, 40 of them incorporated in the last year, which are added to the multimedia content - videos and podcasts - of financial and digital education. Even so, 40% of the initiatives collected on the platform are in-person, in response to the needs of groups such as older people and people with disabilities.