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Forcing digital for a higher fee: attractive?

Categories : Cash ensures competition among payment instruments
March 14, 2019
Published in : accessibility, ATM, Ireland
The Bank of Ireland is cutting services at a higher cost for its customers: a new trend in the banking sector?
Communication Team

The Bank of Ireland (BOI) is taking the fast train towards digital services at a higher cost – and greater loss – for its customers. Indeed, the BOI announced that it would rid itself of ATM-only cards by replacing them with Visa/MasterCard debit cards. The catch? The government caps fees on ATM-cards at €2.50 while debit cards can be charged double the amount (€5). Furthermore, although minors under 14 years of age generally have their ATM card fees waived, the Bank has announced that they will only be allowed to apply for a Visa debit card with parental consent.

A number of other services will be removed from BOI ATMs including the possibility to request a statement, pay bills, or add mobile credit to one’s phone. The Bank’s rewards programme will also be cut, leaving customers without any perks except for that of paying more for less.

At a time when bank branch and ATM closures are rampant and where access to cash has become a hot topic in UK media, it is surprising that the Bank of Ireland is not only cutting services that were otherwise already automated, but that they’re raising their fees. In the real world, wouldn’t that be considered commercial suicide? Or maybe it’s a cool new trend of which we’re yet to discover the benefits?

Regardless, it could backlash should the UK government truly set its mind to safeguarding access to cash for all UK citizens, particularly in rural areas. The consumer group Which? will probably have a word to say, unless BOI customers are the first to take their money elsewhere.

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