30 July 2022 No Comments by The Northern Standard

– but Minister Humphreys says “solid commitment” needed on future of cash services

The decision by AIB not to proceed with plans to introduce cashless services at a number of its branches throughout the country has been welcomed with particular enthusiasm in the towns of Carrickmacross and Castleblayney in Co Monaghan which had been listed for the change. But Cavan/Monaghan Fine Gael TD and Government Minister Heather Humphreys said this week that the bank must now follow up with “a solid commitment” to its ‘Blayney and Carrick customers on the future of cash services in the towns. Minister Humphreys also called for AIB to appear before the Oireachtas Finance Committee. AIB announced its decision to remove cash services from 70 of its branches early last week, but on Friday said it was not proceeding with the plan. The move had provoked a severe backlash from the public, businesses and farming organisations and the bank found itself under significant political pressure to reconsider, with Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD leading the calls for the decision to be reversed. On Friday AIB said it was not proceeding with the plan, “recognising the customer and public unease it has caused”. In a statement the bank said that it had taken the original decision to remove the cash services in the context of the evolving banking environment and the opportunity to enhance its long-standing relationship with An Post. “In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the use of digital banking services and a decline in branch visits and cash usage. “In AIB’s case, there are 2.9 million daily digital interactions compared with 35,000 customer branch visits. “There has been a 36% decline in cash withdrawals from ATMs and a 50% fall in cheque usage over the past five years.” The bank said that it had seen a fall of almost 50% in branch over-the-counter teller transactions, while mobile and online payments had increased by 85% in that same timeframe. It said it would continue to retain its 170- strong branch network in its entirety and would also continue to offer banking services through its relationship with An Post. EXPLANATION NEEDED – MINISTER HUMPHREYS Minister for Social Protection and Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys TD welcomed AIB’s reversal of their decision to remove cash services from a number of branches in Carrickmacross and Castleblayney but said that AIB must still come before the Oireachtas Finance Committee to explain how an announcement had cone about that had caused “such shock and worry to businesspeople and vulnerable customers all around the country.” “While I welcome AIB’s reversal of their initial decision to remove cash services from many branches, they must now come before the Oireachtas Finance Committee to explain what happened here and to give a solid commitment to customers on the future of cash services in South Monaghan,” Minister Humphreys stated. “Banks must keep customers informed about any future decisions in respect of services and branches. We cannot have shock announcements like this, causing consternation for older customers and businesspeople.

“Furthermore, the Government should never have been blindsided by AIB like this, particularly as a major shareholder in the bank. “AIB made no mention of this plan when they were at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Finance. In fact, they emphasised how much they value face-to-face banking and how important their wide network of branches is to them. “They also stressed how they prioritise vulnerable customers. In reality removing cash services from such a significant number of branches would have been extremely detrimental for older and vulnerable customers, many of whom report they do not possess digital skills for online banking and shouldn’t be at a loss as a result.

“The announcement from AIB with very little notice, showed absolutely no regard for customers. Branches such as Carrickmacross and Castleblayney would have seen services severely curtailed. This decision would have had a serious impact on businesspeople…

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