AS SINGAPORE accelerates to become a society with widespread use of technology, private firms and grassroots organisations launch initiatives to ensure the elderly don't get left behind.
From courses on social media and how to spot fake news to digital services specifically for seniors, more organisations are taking steps to ensure that older people can also ride on the technological wave.
In the past six months, firms and grassroots organisations have rolled out workshops and classes targeted at the elderly in Singapore.
For instance, OCBC Bank held a workshop in Radin Mas last month for 35 seniors to learn about mobile banking, online security and cashless payments. This month, it has conducted similar workshops and set up a booth to help some 200 seniors in the same area.
Grassroots organisation People's Association launched a four-month programme in November that helps seniors to be smart nation ready.
The course includes how to use common smartphone applications and social media, how to keep devices safe and cyber security.
These programmes come on top of government initiatives announced during the Budget debate last month. These initiatives are part of a bigger framework to turn Singapore into a smart nation with technological solutions in the face of a global technological disruption.
One of the government's plans is basic digital skills training for everyone, according to Senior Minister of State for Communications and Information Janil Puthucheary.
The six-hour training scheme - to be offered from June - will teach people aged 40 and above how to transact and communicate online safely, as well as spot fake news and online scams, among other things.
The Infocomm Media Development Authority will start holding more digital clinics for seniors, expanding a pilot programme it started in November.
These clinics are for those who want one-on-one assistance on connecting to wireless hot spots or to learn more about applications and electronic transactions.
TPG Telecom, which won the fourth telco licence in Singapore in 2016, is targeting the elderly for its first product offering. It will offer seniors above the age of 65 a free mobile plan consisting of a SIM card, 3GB of monthly mobile data and unlimited local calls "at no charge" for the first 24 months. Its services will be rolled out later this year.
TPG executive chairman David Teoh said the decision to focus on seniors is part of its contribution to Singapore's Smart Nation initiative.
“We have chosen to focus on assisting senior citizens as our first initiative to demonstrate our commitment to improving what is available for the community,” he said.
Dennis Tan, head of consumer financial services for Singapore at OCBC Bank, cited customer research suggesting that “many seniors are unsure if what they have done in preparation for retirement is sufficient”.
He said: “They want more advice on retirement planning and many are digital regulars who are open to using more digital tools for banking and other activities.”
Retired Chinese teacher Kwan Meow Yong attended a three-day course at a grassroots club in Telok Blangah recently on how to open an Internet banking account, among other technological knowhow.
“I don't want to be left behind when I have to use my card to pay for food at the hawker centre in the future,” the 69-year-old said. However, she wished the course could have been more elderly-friendly.
“Sometimes, it feels like the instructor is speaking a different language. He goes on without explaining the terms he uses. Not everyone knows what is 2FA, for example, and I wish he would slow down and start at a really basic level.”