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Spanish Retiree Fights Digital Bank Divide, Seeks Human Help



A Spanish retiree campaigning to keep in-person customer services at banks because he felt “left out” by the shift to online banking is handing government officials a petition with more than 610,000 signatures, amid a wave of national support for his cause.

Carlos San Juan, 78, a retired doctor from Valencia in southeast Spain, traveled to Madrid and was to hand the signatures Tuesday to the secretary of state for the treasury, Carlos Cuerpo, at the Economy Ministry.

His petition struck a chord with many people in Spain as banks seek to drive business online.

As the campaign gathered momentum last month, he received a phone call from the governor of the Bank of Spain, the country’s central bank, and the government publicly appealed to banks to ensure they were meeting the needs of older people.

Spain’s government minister for economic affairs and digital transformation, Nadia Calviño, stood alongside San Juan and promised “effective measures” by the end of the month to address the problem.

Referring to Spain’s estimated 10 million retirees, San Juan said outside the Economy Ministry that he was motivated by the “desperation of many, many people who feel excluded.”

On his petition website he complained that “nowadays almost everything is done on the Internet … and we don’t understand those machines.”

“We don’t deserve this exclusion,” he said, demanding “human attention” when he goes to a bank.

He said at times he felt “humiliated” when asking for help from a bank employee “and they treated me as if I was an idiot because I couldn’t do it.”

His slogan on is “SoyMayorNOidiota” (“I’m a senior citizen, not an idiot”).

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