Bank of Ireland to go 'cash free' in 100 branches

Age Action Ireland has denounced the move...

Bank of Ireland to go 'cash free' in 100 branches

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Bank of Ireland staff in 100 branches will no longer handle cash by the end of the year.

Customers will still be able to lodge and withdraw money from self-service machines, but won't be able to take out more than €1,300 or avail of foreign currency or coin services within these branches.

The bank has said that just 3% of transactions are currently conducted over the counter.

A spokesman for the bank told the Irish Independent that it already operates a number of cash-free branches and wants to convert more of its 250-branch network – the largest in the State – to what it calls an "advice and self-service" model.

He added that customers who handle a lot of cash will have to use different branches that retain traditional counter services.

Groups representing older customers have hit out at the move, arguing that digital banking leaves a lot of people isolated. 

Justin Moran from Age Action Ireland said:

"The majority of people aged 65 and over have literally never been online. They're not going to pick up online banking at this point.

"Many of them want to do their financial business over the counter, they want to do it with bank staff they know and trust; with whom they have relationships.

"We'd be worried that thousands of older people are going to be left behind as Bank of Ireland leads and as other banks follow trying to push people into doing as much of their business online as possible."

The news comes just over a month on from Bank of Ireland announcing a €10 million upgrade of its branches this year.

This includes the installation of 90 new external lodgement and ATMs around the country, meaning that 80% of its branches will offer 24-hour lodgement and withdrawal capabilities.

The bank is also adding a third-party lodgement option to its eLATMs, allowing customers to lodge money into other people's accounts on the street. It's an option currently only offered on internal machines.

Ulster Bank

The changing landscape for physical banking services saw Ulster Bank announce its intentions in March to close 22 Irish branches.

The bank is hoping that as many of these redundancies as possible will be voluntary. Previous Ulster Bank downsizing has seen redundancy schemes oversubscribed.

The closures are set to take place in June and September, leaving it with 88 branches in the Republic. 

Ulster Bank has said the closures come as it moves to digital banking. Last year, 62% of its customer interactions were digital, compared to 10% in branches.