Internet banking for survivors

Online banking gives survivors and other customers the freedom to manage their finances and develop key financial literacy skills. Addressing data poverty and improving digital literacy skills to ensure accessibility for survivors are key steps for financial institutions to holistically support them.

Internet banking for survivors

Key learnings

  • Understand the advantages of internet banking for survivors.
  • Explore the need to address and mitigate data poverty.
  • Learn from existing initiatives what’s being done to promote digital literacy skills and how this can help survivors.

The advantages of internet banking

Internet banking is a key driver of survivor financial inclusion and long-term independence. It is therefore critical for financial institutions to understand and acknowledge the need for digital inclusion and its existing barriers.

Survivors have identified the following internet banking advantages:

“Internet banking all the way! It works for me in the comfort of my house. I can do my transactions anytime, anywhere. That’s why I love it. That’s one of the best things that’s happened to the banking industry. I love it.”

Emma, Survivor Consultant

Addressing data poverty in relation to financial inclusion

Given the necessity of digital inclusion, financial institutions need to work together to tackle data poverty as part of their wider support for vulnerable customers.

The advantages of tackling data poverty include:

  • Providing greater financial inclusion by increasing access to online financial literacy resources.
  • Promoting long-term financial independence, allowing survivors to carry out essential activities such as applying for jobs or applying for universal credit.

To tackle data poverty, recommendations are:

1. Increase in-branch access

Expanding and improving in-branch Wi-Fi and access to tablets or computers across retail banks will help cater to vulnerable individuals who lack at-home access to technology, Wi-Fi or data.

Access to Wi-Fi and in-branch devices can be signposted alongside in-branch digital tutorials and 1-on-1 banking sessions.

2. Partner with key stakeholders

The National Databank was established to tackle data poverty across the U.K. Through partnerships with Virgin Media O2, Vodafone and Three, free sim cards and data are provided to members of the community who need it. Working with the National Databank, vulnerable customers can gain access to sufficient data and technology.

The Digital Poverty Alliance is a U.K.-based organisation on a mission to end digital poverty for all. Join the Digital Poverty Alliance Hub to engage with other organisations, spark collaboration and explore new solutions to address data poverty.

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance is a U.S. organisation open to all. They support digital inclusion practitioners across the U.S. and the world by providing resources and on-the-ground strategies for providing digital inclusion services. Sign up to be part of the community and access further information here.

3. Think outside the box

Get creative with how to provide onboarding packages for survivors and other vulnerable customers. Examples may include providing data-related rewards or offline access to mobile banking apps and financial literacy resources.

Promoting digital literacy

Addressing the lack of digital literacy skills among survivors and other vulnerable populations within the financial industry will help the promotion of survivor financial inclusion and the reduction of further exploitation.

Advantages include:

  • Addressing the digital divide faced by many vulnerable populations.
  • Reducing the risk of misinformation, fraud or mismanagement.
  • Offering a higher level of financial literacy by improving digital literacy education, which is associated with greater knowledge, behaviour and well-being.

Developing a digital inclusion strategy that includes online banking access to all is essential for promoting digital literacy education.

This may include initiatives such as:

  • Providing drop-in sessions and virtual classes to improve digital literacy skills, such as Nationwide Building Society’s ‘Tea and Tech’ sessions and Lloyds’ Digital Inclusion Programme.
  • Sharing online banking resources such as Nationwide Building Society’s ‘Digital Demos’ can guide survivors through online banking services in their own time.
  • Nominating employee digital champions and helping them to share their skills in the community, both online and in-person.
  • Signposting survivors to the ‘Learn My Way’ hub, which provides a free guide to internet essentials to complement digital literacy training provided by banks.

Nationwide Building Society’s “Tea and Tech”

Nationwide offers customers “Tea and Tech” classes to help those struggling to navigate online banking. Both face-to-face and online classes are held, offering tutorials on digital banking basics. Customers can tailor their financial literacy education to suit their needs and can repeat sessions if further guidance is needed.


iDEA is an international, award-winning Digital Enterprise Award providing people of all ages and stages the tools to develop digital literacy, enterprise and employability skills. This involves improving your skills and knowledge, learning how to stay safe online and getting more confident at using technology.

Users can earn badges as they work through courses that provide a visual acknowledgement of achievement, and by earning points, users can also win industry-recognised Awards.

Summary: Important guidance

  1. Consider supporting survivors to access internet banking and resources. This could include expanding and improving in-branch Wi-Fi and access to tablets or computers across all retail banks, as well as providing drop-in sessions and virtual classes that develop digital literacy skills.
  2. Explore opportunities to collaborate with digital poverty initiatives such as the National Databank, Digital Poverty Alliance (UK) and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (US).
  3. Equipping frontline colleagues with the skills and resources to actively promote digital inclusion can help to support all vulnerable customers facing barriers to internet banking. Consider nominating dedicated digital champions.

Note: All in-person sessions and virtual classes should be conducted in a trauma-informed manner by an employee who has completed training on trauma-informed practice. See the previous module for further details.

Where to next?



1728 1017 TRIBE Survivor Financial Empowerment Hub
Survivor financial empowerment hub

Survivor financial empowerment hub

1728 785 TRIBE Survivor Financial Empowerment Hub
Financial literacy education

Financial literacy education

2560 1707 TRIBE Survivor Financial Empowerment Hub
2560 1707 TRIBE Survivor Financial Empowerment Hub
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