Methods: We used an exploratory, cross-sectional survey design to understand the experience of using digital financial tools among seniors aged 60 or older. The convenience sample (N=322) was recruited through QQ survey platform. To avoid limiting recruitment to people who have access to the Internet, we purposefully sampled a proportion of rural and less educated participants through their family members. Dependent variables were ownership of a digital financial product account (1=yes, 0=no) and a history of making digital payments (1=yes, 0=no). The main independent variable was the digital financial services PUE, which was created by perceptions of five statements regarding digital finance (1=strongly disagree to 5=strongly agree). We summed the scores of the five statements (Cronbach’s α=0.85). Respondents whose scores were 17 or above were coded as high-PUE, and those scored below 17 were coded as low-PUE (M=16.80, SD=3.37, Mdn=17). Bivariate analyses were conducted to investigate the differences in sociodemographic characteristics between the two groups. Two logistic regression models were employed to examine the influence of digital finance PUE on the use of the related services, while controlling for sociodemographic covariates.
Results: Bivariate analysis results show that respondents in the high-PUE group (n=186) are more likely to be younger, be better educated, have higher income, and live in urban areas, whereas the characteristics of the respondents in the low-PUE group are in the opposite polarity. The majority of low-PUE respondents reported that they do not own a digital financial product account (72.41%) nor use any form of digital payment (72.22%). After controlling for covariates, high-PUE was associated with significantly higher odds for having a digital financial product account (OR=5.72, p<.001) and for using digital payments (OR=8.54, p<0.001).
Conclusions: Our findings suggest that perceived benefit and ease of use of digital financial services can greatly motivate older adults to engage in digital financial activities. However, the sociodemographic disparity between the high- and low-PUE groups indicates that a digital divide within the senior population in China exists. Gerontological social workers should navigate and advocate tailored financial technology training for older adults, particularly for those have fewer resources.