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Chongqing tackles "digital divide" with dialect-friendly apps

(Xinhua)    16:09, February 14, 2021

CHONGQING, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality has asked banks to offer elderly-friendly mobile applications that can understand the local vernacular as part of a raft of measures to help older residents adapt to the digital era.

The Chongqing government has implemented 39 policies to lower the threshold of digital technologies for older residents in areas including city transportation, medical care and cultural activities, the city's development and reform commission said Sunday.

One of the policies encourages city-level banks to upgrade their apps to understand the vernacular pronunciation of elderly users who have trouble typing on their cell phones. Banking outlets must not decline cash, still widely used by the elderly who lack mobile transaction experience.

Large hospitals are required to open dedicated channels for elderly patients without digital health codes, while public transit stations and sports and cultural venues must also retain windows for cash transactions or ticket purchases on the spot.

By the end of 2019, Chongqing had more than 6.4 million residents aged 60 and above, accounting for 20.6 percent of the city's population.

It is among the Chinese cities that has adopted measures in response to the State Council plan to help the elderly use smart technologies, as banks, hospitals and the public transport system move more services online, especially in the post-epidemic era when contactless services are favored.

In December, the eastern Chinese city of Shanghai passed a regulation calling on public service providers to respect the habits of the elderly and retain traditional methods of public service.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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