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What is It Like to Be a ‘Digital Immigrant’ in a Developing Country?

Digital immigrants as the name suggest referring to people who were not born technologically ridden world. They were born prior to 1985 when technology was not widely used. However the world has changed and nowadays people use technological products every time in their life, from electric brushes to AI-based alarm watches; there is a technological innovation in every product. However, digital immigrant people face difficulties in using these products as they don’t have technological knowledge. Even in the financial system, technological developments have made the user’s life much easier. Although, there are people who don’t understand how to use them. 

So, here in this article, we have tried to list the problems, they face and the necessary solutions that can be provided by the financial platforms.

What Do You Mean by Digital Immigrants?

What Do You Mean by Digital Immigrants?

Digital immigrant refers to people who were born before the digital age. This term was first coined by Marc Prensky in 2001, for people who were not born when technology had innovations in every essential thing in our lives. That generation of people is often referred to as Generation X people. It has been a tough journey for them to transition from a world where the greatest innovation was talking on a mobile phone, to a time where everything, from ordering food to transferring money is done by just our mobile phone. People who are born now will not understand the difference that Generation X people had to face, to them, the world hasn’t changed even a bit.

If you are looking for a time bracket to understand which people are called Generation X, anyone born before 1985  is called a digital immigrant, and people born after 1985 are called digital natives. The term digital native means any person who has been born alongside technological advancements. If you are wondering why anyone would come up with the term digital immigrant, the reason is that then teachers had a tough time communicating with students, the reason being a technological gap.

As the students were from the digital native era, the language they spoke couldn’t be understood by their teachers as they were from the digital immigrant era. So, it could not continue in this way, there had to be a change, and there came a solution where teachers discussed with students their way of communicating and came up with necessary steps where teachers could interact with digital-age kids. 

Well, the term digital immigrant is kind of incomplete, it does not give a clear picture of the people who are in that bracket. Digital immigrants only drew a line between people who were born before 1985 and people who were not. However, it did not take into account those individuals who had a hand in developing the technology, there was no record of all the homeless people who did not have access to basic technology even before 1985, according to the definition they might not be considered in any of the following group. Many people had easily adapted to the technologically advanced world, even by not being born in it.

When Was the Digital Age Started?

The digital age started in the year 1970 with the introduction of personal computers. This time was also called the computer age or the new media age. Since then computer age has not yet stopped. 

With the increase in technology use in our day-to-day life, it is very easily available. Some of the tasks just seem to be impossible without technology. In the past decade, our dependence on technology has skyrocketed almost everything in our life depends on technology. From waking up by alarm to sleeping peacefully under the air conditioner technology is present everywhere. Every company that is currently working requires the need for technology in running operations smoothly.      

From our homes to offices, our dependence on technology remains constant. Nowadays our mobile phones are capable to run every kind of program that used to be run on a computer, there is no need to use a personal computer. Technology has advanced so much that any piece of information can be retrieved in milliseconds. To access this you can be at any place on this earth, you just need to connect to the internet. Banks can now be accessed while sitting at home thanks to the new wave of partnership models between banks and fintech startups.

With technological advancement, it is sometimes hard for people who were not born in this era to keep up the pace with it. Digital immigrant people face certain difficulties in adapting to this growing world, it becomes hard for them to interact with today’s generation as they are from the digital age. There is a knowledge gap in terms of technology, between digital immigrants and digital native people. Even today there are a lot of digital immigrant people who do not understand modern technology, even though they were present when it was created.     

What are the Benefits of the Digital Age?

What Are the Benefits of the Digital Age?

Technology has made a significant impact on our day-to-day life, with its innovation, it has made traveling, shopping, communication, and entertainment a lot easier, and all these developments happened just in the last decades. Which makes it hard for some people to keep track of all the developments. You just can’t find any electronic device or machinery that does not have a touch of technology.  

With constant innovation technology has made all devices a lot smarter, it is fast, mobile, and can be used for different things at once. You can get access to a huge amount of information with just one click, all of it stored in a virtual cloud. Maybe there are no such things as physical copies of a photo as everything has become digital. There are no hard copies there are soft copies. Information is now not considered to be in the form of any document or report, it is all present on the Internet. There have been huge improvements in our life with technological advancement, here are some of the benefits of this Digital Age:     

Social Connectivity

With the introduction of the internet social connectivity has not become a problem. Before sending a letter it would take around 1 week in some cases, now you can just send a simple email that will take seconds to reach the recipient. You can stay in touch with your loved ones. You can work by not going to the office, and you can stay connected with your employees via the Internet. Multiple social media websites have more than half of the world’s population as their user base, you can have a chat with anyone you like.

You can communicate through words, videos, songs, etc. you can access these websites on your mobile phone, or tablet whichever device you are comfortable with. In today’s world, it is hard to be isolated, as social connectivity is so much easier. Many Micro financial institutions with the help of the internet have started an embedded education model to teach women entrepreneurs how to grow their businesses for a full report click on the top five resources of 2013 on the financial inclusion of women. 

Communication Speeds

As the telecommunication industry has grown in scale, Internet speed has also increased a lot. Telecommunication companies have made data so cheap that everyone can afford it. You can upload a video or download it within minutes. It takes less time for any user to see any content on the internet due to fast data speed. You can even send videos to someone, it will not take much time for them to get uploaded. However, internet speed can be even increased by a user if they a premium amount. Although the average speed has significantly gone up.   

Versatile Working

The office culture has also been impacted by technological advancement, an employee can work from his home. Now, this becomes helpful in times of any disaster like a virus outbreak, the companies can keep working by staying connected to the internet. Globalization has also expanded, people living in remote places in a country can receive goods or services from 1000 miles far from another country, that is the power of the internet. Due to technological advancement, new employment opportunities have been created, as you can work from anywhere. Companies are hiring employees from across the country.   

Learning Opportunities

You can have access to information just with one click. With the help of social media platforms, you can connect with people who are an expert on the topic that you want to learn. You can have an online class with that individual, sitting at home. You can foreign language from a native person online. The Internet is a huge pool of information, it contains information about everything that has happened in this world, and you can start a debate or a discussion by commenting on that content. Learning has never been this simpler. Online learning can be helpful for people having disabilities, it can give access to information by not going to any physical classes. A large number of the rural population can get information about any government scheme that will help them.   


You may have dreamed that if you would just sit in a car and the car would drive on its own. Well, with technology it is possible. Many concept cars are into making which can drive on their own. Automation has given help to a lot of manufacturing enterprises, and they have improved their quality and quantity in production. Hard tasks like diamond cutting and polishing and blast furnace industries are relieved to get services from automated machines. They don’t have to hire humans as it was dangerous for humans to get the job done. Automated machines can get the job done with precision and efficiency. There is automation in websites, where a customer can book a hotel, order food, etc. with just some commands.      

1. Information Storage

You can store huge chunks of information in your cloud. Cloud does not mean those which are present up in the sky. The cloud storage facility is provided by the Internet where you can store pictures, videos, etc in a designated place where you have to upload, whatever you want to store. To access this data you will be needed the internet. Informational websites are web pages that contain information about everything. The website company writes these documents and uploads them on the web for the user to see. You can access information on your mobile phone, tablet, or PC.

2. Editing          

Editing has become a lot easier nowadays, you do not require a high-end professional studio to edit a video you can do it by using editing software on your laptop. You can edit pictures on your mobile phone and then upload them on the Internet. In the time’s traditional media, you would only receive information that the media houses would publish. Nowadays, you can edit news and start a debate on certain topics. You can start your news channel by publishing relevant information and news regularly. 

Problems Faced by Digital Immigrants to Manage Credit in this Digital Age

Problems Faced by Digital Immigrants to Manage Credit In this Digital Age

With rapid technological development in the financial system by fintech companies, it has become hard for digital immigrants to fully understand how it works. The growth has taken place in recent times. Just before 10 years, this was not the case; within a decade, the whole financial system changed. People now use mobile banking, rather than going to a physical bank. Payments are done through mobile phones, you can receive and send money through your phone itself.

The system has become a lot more covenant for people living in remote areas where there is not any brick-and-mortar bank. digitization of the financial system has increased financial inclusivity, and a lot of people has become a member of mobile banking institutions. In countries like India almost half of the nation has joined mobile money apps, they send money, recharge their phones, pay bills, and almost everything which would require transaction of money on their mobile phone. 

In Zambia, many financial institutions have partnered with mobile network companies to start mobile money platforms. This has positively affected the country as most people have joined this platform and can have access to financial products. Zambia had poverty; to reduce it, they switched to digital baking by the use of mobile money platforms this validates why ultra-poor graduation is the strongest case so far for why financial services must be a part of the solution to extreme poverty.

Well, enough with the success stories of mobile money applications, there are major problems faced by digital immigrant people while using any kind of mobile money platform. With age, it is quite a norm to face difficulties while reading something small or on a screen. Other problem also arises as they are not familiar with how to use technological products.

We can’t deny the benefits that we have received from technological advancement. it has helped in sectors such as health, finance, food, etc.

The growth has been rapid, which made digital immigrant people fall behind, and some of them could adjust themselves to the technologically advanced world. According to reports published by Bankable Frontier Associates, an institute who have worked towards financial inclusion in rural areas of many countries. If you want to know about financial inclusion click on this report financial inclusion from a consumer perspective.

The report said that people having low-income living in rural areas faced a lot of challenges while adopting the new financial system. They made the report by monitoring the financial services that they were giving out to people.

There are several examples related to the problems faced by digital immigrant people: one of them would be “a woman living in Mexico wanted to withdraw her pension/ social benefits money from an ATM; she accidentally donated all her money into some charity by accidentally taping into some random add option that was flashing on the ATM.” These are some of the examples, which show how people face difficulties with the user interface especially those who do not understand technological products.

There is one more example of a farmer, who says “ It has been very difficult for us to keep a track of all the developments that have taken place in the financial system in the past decade. We don’t even know how to use an ATM; we always ask others for help when we need to withdraw money from Bank. Due to this rapid change, we are lagging on various kinds of technological knowledge.”

However, in developing countries, people do not face that much difficulty, in using technologically advanced products. Although it is very important to include everyone in the process, the device should serve every kind of person so that they can take benefit of technological products. Many banking institutions that offer mobile money platforms have a poor user interface which makes it difficult to include every type of client.

When you introduce a new product it is hard to include everyone in the process, it does not matter whether the product is technologically based or not, awareness is most important, and education. Companies should work towards bridging the gap between technology and digital immigrant.   

Certain problems stop digital immigrants from actively using fintech products; we have listed down some of the problems: 

The Reliability Problem

Many places such as Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania have problems with stable internet connections. The telecom companies over there do not provide stable internet connection. In Uganda, the Internet is used by 21.09 percent of the total population. This just shows the internet is not used by a lot of people. For the use of mobile money platforms, an internet connection is a must, not only that, you need to have a stable connection when you want to transfer money from one mobile number to another.

According to the report by the Financial Inclusion Tracker Surveys (FITS), around 64% of Ugandans, 52% of Tanzanians, and 48% of Kenyans who use mobile money platforms have faced network instability while transacting money. Due to this instability, a lot of the time payments have failed. This is a big problem in times of emergencies when every second is very precious. In some cases even if the payment shows as failed the amount gets debited from your account, this causes many users to not rely on mobile money platforms as it is unstable.   

Data Privacy- Data Security Should be Increased

According to reports published by financial institutions present in Tanzania around 20% of the mobile money platform users, share their PINs with strangers, and another 20% of the population takes assistance from others while performing any financial transaction. This exposes your banking credentials to others which increases the risk of fraud. This is not only the case with Tanzania, almost every country faces this issue. People who are not aware of this problem share their PIN with members of their family. Sometimes, they take the help of the officers present in banks for transferring money.

If there is a technological innovation in the payment process, this problem can be avoided. Every user should be made aware of these problems, they should know it will harm them if they don’t take care of this. Mobile money platforms should make the verification process before the payment lot easier for accommodation people that are not technologically sound. If a user is seeking help from another person, access should be limited in that case.      

Solutions to Improve the Design to Include Digital Immigrants 

Solutions to Improve the Design to Include Digital Immigrants

When technologically based products were launched it was a task for the designers, as the product was new the user interface should be relatable and easy to understand. It has always been a challenge for designers to innovate and include people of every generation. The main concept behind this is that the design should be made by keeping a human at the center of all innovations. This should be done by every technological product manufacturer, only by this digital immigrant people will feel included in this digital age.

However, we have mentioned some fundamental principles that need to be taken care of including all types of clients:      

  1. Use appropriate images: While designing an online portal, the company should keep in mind the images represent a certain meaning, a star in Ghana could mean nothing but in Pakistan, it could mean their religious symbol. The designers should have deep knowledge of ethnography and anthropology about the respective country.   
  2. Enlarge icons and text: According to reports published by the world health organization (WHO) around 1.3 billion, people have a hard time reading small-sized words. The design should include a regulator of font size for any person to change it according to their liking.   
  3. Test it first: In many mobile money platforms, the user at the initial stage always sends a small amount of money at the beginning to test whether the app works or not. They do that at the beginning because sending a huge amount at the beginning has a risk if the payment gets stalled in the middle or if any other problem occurs. The payment app should be designed in a way where in the initial stages the user can send a dummy transaction just to understand how the process works. This will make the user believe in the app. People who have difficulty working with technological products can be trained by this method.     
  4. Instant and easily trackable records: The mobile money app should provide instant details about any transaction that has taken place. As we get receipts for any payment we make by our credit card or a debit card, the app should also provide that kind of record. The app should even contain a list of all the transactions that have been done by the app, this allows the user to keep a track of their spending. 
  5. Make it fraud-proof: Yes, the danger of some kind of fraud and scams makes many people not join a mobile money platform. Fraudsters have found various ways to trick users into a scam. Financial institutes should hire ethical hackers to examine their systems to find out potential flaws that can be exploited by any hacker. That flaw needs to be rectified to protect clients from potential scams and frauds. However, the clients should always remember to not share their banking credentials such as PIN numbers or OTPs that they receive with anyone.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What are the characteristics of a digital immigrant?

Digital immigrants are the persons who were born before 1985, they were not born in a world where people were dependent on technology for basic things in life. The following are the characteristics:

  • They will prefer to communicate in person or by phone call
  • Follow proper English while texting
  • Always choose a formal channel of communication such as an e-mail, or in person
  • They do not understand chat acronyms such as “idk”, “ttyl” etc
  • Prefers to read printed documents rather than on screen

Q2. What are the advantages of digital immigrants?

Digital immigrants are goal-oriented people; they have long-term goals and they work hard to achieve them. In comparison to digital natives, they are value-oriented persons who do work that value them. It is profitable to hire digital immigrants as they are hard-working; however, they are not as flexible as digital natives. That is one thing the employer must keep in mind. 

Q3. What best describes digital immigrants?

Digital immigrants are the people who were born when technology had not entered into our daily lives. People that were born before 1985 are called digital immigrants. This name was coined by Marc Prensky.    

Bottom Line

Nowadays kids understand how to use a mobile phone at a very small age; this is not the case with everyone though. People who were born when technology was not a thing, face difficulties in adjusting to the new world where technology has taken center stage. Technological products are used by people from the start of the day itself.

With the sudden technological developments in the financial sector by the fintech companies, digital immigrant people are facing difficulties in understanding the process. Some of the problems include trust issues, unstable internet connection, data security, etc. 

Well, we have mentioned some solutions addressing the problem, solutions include a user-friendly interface so that everyone can use it, a font enlargement option for people having bad vision, etc. We hope that this article has made you realize the problems that digital immigrants face and what can be done about them.

Author Profile

Jonas Taylor
Jonas Taylor
Jonas Taylor is a financial expert and experienced writer with a focus on finance news, accounting software, and related topics. He has a talent for explaining complex financial concepts in an accessible way and has published high-quality content in various publications. He is dedicated to delivering valuable information to readers, staying up-to-date with financial news and trends, and sharing his expertise with others.

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