The Bank of Ireland is under fire following its announcement to stop handling cash at counters in more than 100 of its branches starting the end of this year. Set up in 1783, the bank is the oldest banking organisation in the country and benefits from the largest network, with 250 branches.
The bank already took a first step in this direction in 2015, by banning cash transactions under €700 at counters. The institution now steps up the pace and reported that staff will no longer accept or dispense banknotes and coins at the counter in more than one-in-three branches. To justify the decision, the bank stated that cash transactions represent a too low proportion compared to other services. Customers will still be able to access or deposit cash through self-service machines installed in the affected branches. However, many services cannot be replaced by ATMs and will thus disappear, such as the ability to change foreign currency or withdraw more than €1,300.
The decision faced criticism especially from groups representing older customers. Indeed, many elderly are not used to digital devices or online banking and thus rely exclusively on counter services to access their money. Justin Moran – Head of Communications and Advocacy at Age Action – stated that the decision is disappointing and will leave a part of the population behind. Indeed, people under 65 feel more comfortable when doing their financial transactions with a real person that they know and trust, and will feel abandoned by the system if the human side disappears. Banks are encouraging online transactions to reduce costs but forget that older clients have often never used a computer.
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