Calls to Protect Cash in Ireland
Following a public backlash that obliged Allied Irish Banks to reverse its decision to make 40 percent of its branches cashless, there are calls for people to use more cash, and the Central Bank of Ireland is exploring whether there is a need for legislative changes to protect cash and recognise its key role in society.
Within days of announcing 70 of its 170 branches would become cashless, Allied Irish Banks (AIB) walked back the announcement, confirming this policy reversal would be permanent and the branches would continue to provide cash services. This followed an outpouring of criticism from politicians—including Prime Minister Micheál Martin—local businesses and rural communities, arguing that cash was essential for individuals, businesses and the economy alike, and reducing access to it would be damaging.
The Central Bank has subsequently called for a more in-depth, socio-political discussion of the future of cash, pointing out that other countries have made legislative changes to ensuring ongoing access to and free use of cash. The regulator recognises the key role cash plays in ensuring the needs of all citizens are met in its newly-published public consultation.
We believe it is important that [cash] remains as a central part of the payment system… Cash plays a vital role in ensuring the financial needs of some consumers are served, particularly those without access to a bank account, those digitally marginalised and those who are vulnerable. It also represents a critical contingency in the event of electronic payment system failures.
Independent Councillor Jackie Healy Rae is also leading voices calling for action to ensure no other banks follow AIB in attempting to remove cash services, urging people to use more cash in their everyday transactions.
Small businesses, local community groups and even GAA clubs all need cash bank transactions to see them through their daily or weekly business and people literally have the choice in their own hands to use more cash to prevent banks from making further plays in the future at closing down branches.