Valencian Pensioner Fights Digital Banking 

A Valencian pensioner is campaigning for face-to-face customer service at bank branches under the slogan “Soy Mayor No Idiota,” causing a stir in Spain.

A Valencian pensioner is fighting to preserve in-person customer service at banks because he feels “left out” by the shift to online banking. He is attempting to use all legal means at his disposal, and this week he handed over a petition with over 610,000 signatures to the Spanish government, amid a wave of national support for his cause.

Carlos San Juan, 78, a retired doctor from Valencia, travelled to Madrid this week to deliver his petition, which had been signed by over 610.000 people, to the secretary of state for the treasury, Carlos Cuerpo, at the Ministry of Economy.

His petition resonated with many Spaniards as banks seek to drive business online.

Last month, as the campaign gained traction, he received a phone call from the governor of the Bank of Spain, the country’s central bank, and the government publicly urged banks to ensure they were meeting the needs of the elderly.

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

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

This Valencian pensioner complained on his petition website that “nowadays almost everything is done on the internet… and we don’t understand those machines.”

“We don’t deserve this exclusion,” he says, insisting on “human attention” when he visits a bank.

When he asked for help from a bank employee, he said he felt “humiliated,” and “they treated me as if I was an idiot because I couldn’t do it.”

On the petition platform, his slogan is “SoyMayorNOidiota” (Spanish for “I’m a senior citizen, not an idiot”).

It’s no coincidence that the first person who “had enough of it” comes from Valencia, one of the country’s “red tape” champions.  Leaving aside banking, Valencia is a city where it’s nearly impossible to talk to a government official face to face or contact anyone via internet or phone in post-covid times. Some government departments, such as the notorious Department of Movilitat Sostenible (responsible for complete chaos in the system of fines for entering the Old City), go so far as to refuse to deal with the public, leaving only one option once the fine is issued: to pay.

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