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Better engagement from banks with customers on any changes urgently required – Byrne

22nd July 2022 - Senator Maria Byrne

Banks must keep Government and customers informed about any future decisions in respect of services and branch openings, according to Fine Gael Senator Maria Byrne.

Senator Byrne spoke after AIB reversed a decision to make 70 branches cashless following a backlash from members of the public and many public representatives.

Senator Byrne, a member of the Oireachtas Finance Committee, said: “The debacle caused by AIB’s decision to remove cash services and the subsequent u-turn not to proceed with the changes shows there are lessons to be learned for all banks in how they treat customers.

“All customers, particularly those who are vulnerable and do not bank online, are entitled to full access to basic banking services and should not worry about how they will make deposits or withdrawals simply because they prefer cash transactions.

“AIB sprung this decision on the public and Government with a dressed-up press release at the start of the week celebrating a deepening of their relationship with An Post, along with additional investment.

“Of course post offices our so important and play a vital role in society, but AIB simply can’t remove basic banking services without a moment’s thought for how people in certain rural areas would be inconvenienced by this.

“The State is still a shareholder in AIB and they have a duty to keep Government informed of major decisions which would have a potential negative effect on customers.

“As a member of the Finance Committee, I have consistently raised the need for banks to be understanding and flexible of the needs of ALL customers with the move towards a cashless society.

“The Irish Senior Citizens Parliament previously told me that many of its members are concerned with the digital divide and the impact this is having on them and their independence.

“Older and vulnerable who do not possess digital skills for online banking shouldn’t be at a loss because of advancements in technology.

“I still believe AIB should appear before the Finance Committee next week where I will be expressing the need for them to ensure the interests of their customers are at the core of any decisions they take.”

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