Forum: Mobile apps may present challenges to seniors

I share Mr Chen Wencong's dismay that organisations such as banks, government bodies and insurance companies are making their mobile apps the "centre of the universe" (Has Singapore become a smart nation or smart device nation?, Aug 13).

In some cases, the app is required to perform certain actions, which cannot be done on a computer. If the focus on apps is to continue, then there should be versions of the app on Windows computers.

Phone apps have disadvantages, especially for the elderly.

  • Their small screens and fonts may not be suitable for seniors who have poorer eyesight.
  • Having to bend over to read can be punishing, especially for seniors who may have conditions such as cervical spondylosis (degeneration of the spine).
  • The small screen makes it difficult to toggle between windows when doing Internet transactions like banking which require you to finish within a certain time or the log-in will expire.
    In the process of going to another site for an action such as retrieving a code, the original site may be lost.
  • Often, a smartphone with the latest operating system is required. A bank recently sent customers reminders to ensure that their operating system is up-to-date.
    Customers may then need to buy a new phone even though their existing phone is still functioning, as the older model is no longer supported.

The authorities responded to Mr Chen's letter (Much emphasis placed on inclusivity in Smart Nation push, Aug 16), and said that ServiceSG Centres have been set up to support segments of people, such as seniors, who need help with digital services.

There are currently four of these centres in Singapore. How convenient is it for seniors to visit these centres, compared with the many more AXS kiosks that Mr Chen's father used to visit to top up his Central Provident Fund account?

There is also added concern when a country places too much reliance on the Internet, which is vulnerable to breakdowns and attacks. Cash, cheques and AXS machines are still needed.

Ang Chiew Leng

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