Ireland's Car Testing Service Reverses Cashless Course

calendar iconSep 18, 2023

Ireland’s National Car Testing Service (NCT) has been forced to reverse its plans to go cashless following a nationwide backlash that has once again put cash on the government’s agenda.

Applus+, which operates the NCT, announced in late August that its test centres would become cashless ‘for the safety and convenience of customers.’ Many of these customers, it transpired, were unimpressed by the prospect of cash being refused for an essential service. The flippant tone of the announcement on X (formerly Twitter)—which began ‘we’re saying goodbye to cash!’—sparked immediate anger, with people arguing that ‘cash is freedom’.

The Irish Times noted the move was, in fact, targeted at getting more people to pay in advance for the service, to reduce the number of people booking a test and then either not showing up, or cancelling at the last minute. It added that the idea did not sound ‘quite roadworthy yet’ as Applus+ soon acknowledged more discussion around payments was needed.

A week after the plans were announced, Jack Chambers, Minister of State at the Department of Transport, said no changes to payment arrangements had been approved, saying “it’s important that we don’t exclude anybody”. He added that any alternative payment system “will have to facilitate people that cannot or will not use electronic or digital payments.” The most obvious way to achieve this is by continuing to allow cash payment alongside cashless options.

The story is reminiscent of July 2022’s rapidly-developing tale of Allied Irish Banks announcing many of its branches would go cashless, then walking it back days later following outrage from politicians—including Prime Minister Micheál Martin—local businesses and rural communities.

Protection of access and the right to use cash continues to be a hot topic, with further developments likely as Meath West constituency representative TD Peadar Tóibín calling for discussion around more robust action to prevent the erosion of payment choice, saying ‘we need to decide what role cash will have in the future in Ireland’ since it remains ‘the most inclusive way to run a state service or business’.

Last Updated: Sep 18, 2023