Banks will be required to keep access to cash services at 2022 levels under a new legislative framework recommended in the Retail Banking Review. It is understood finance minister Paschal Donohoe has accepted the recommendation and that work on the framework will begin next year, with heads of heads of a bill to be delivered before 2024. The review calls for banks to preserve “reasonable access to cash” at December 2022 levels, meaning banks will have to make provisions for maintaining both cash deposits and withdrawals, including coin. The legislation is also expected to bring third-party ATM operators under the supervision of the Central Bank, which will also be responsible for protecting the resilience of the cash system.

The review also recommends further legislation empowering the finance minister to require certain firms or sectors to accept cash for the payment of goods or services. It is understood the overall framework and payment strategy will involve developing a protocol in consultation with stakeholders for how banks can make changes to the payments infrastructure or close branches. The review says this will help the sector manage the decline of cash usage in an orderly way.

“The objective of this framework must not be to reverse what has occurred or seek to maintain cash usage at its current level b ut rather to manage further decline in an orderly way,” the report says.

“It is important future changes in the cash infrastructure do not outpace the expectations or needs of society.”

The recommendations come in response to AIB’s controversial attempts to turn 70 of its 170 branches into cashless outlets, a move that would have deprived many of its rural customers of cash deposits and withdrawals. The proposal was met with ferocious public outcry which prompted AIB chief executive Colin Hunt to reverse course within a week of the plan being announced.

Source: Jon Ihle, Irish independent 

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