AIB has scrapped plans to make 70 branches cashless. It follows a public backlash over the move, which a government backbencher says would have ‘finished‘ rural Ireland.
At 11:51 on Friday morning, Fine Gael TDs confirmed there would be an emergency meeting of the parliamentary party to discuss the fallout of AIB’s decision to remove cash services from 70 branches.
Two minutes later, AIB itself confirmed it would be rowing back on those plans. In a statement, the bank says it recognises ‘the customer and public unease that this has caused‘.
There are calls for the Central Bank, the government and the banks themselves to consider the impact of such decisions on vulnerable people in the future.
With AIB going back on this decision, it says it will now operate its 170 branches in their entirety.
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform, Mairéad Farrell TD, has welcomed the announcement that AIB will not proceed with their decision to make many branches cashless.
She said: “I welcome that AIB have reversed their decision. This is the right thing to do. Their decision to make these branches cashless was short-sighted and poorly thought out. It would have caused major problems for customers in rural areas, including vulnerable people and businesses, by forcing them to travel long distances for basic services.
“It is clear that the Future of Banking in Ireland Review is urgently required and must include close examination of local banking services, and the role of the Credit Union sector, to ensure that customers are not subjected to this unacceptable stress again.
AIB Statement on Branch Services
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. AIB has also seen a fall of almost 50% in branch
over-the-counter teller transactions, while mobile and online payments have increased by 85% in that same timeframe.
It was in the context of this evolving banking environment and the opportunity to enhance its longstanding relationship with An Post that AIB took the decision to remove cash services from 70 of its branches.
However, recognising the customer and public unease that this has caused, AIB has decided not to proceed with the proposed changes to its bank services.
The bank continues to retain its 170-strong branch network in its entirety and will also continue to offer banking services through its relationship with at An Post at its 920 post offices nationwide.