New legislation to protect access to cash

New legislation to protect access to cash

New legislation will be introduced to guarantee “reasonable access to cash” in the State.

The general scheme of the Access to Cash Bill, which stems from a recommendation made by the Retail Banking Review in 2022, was published yesterday following approval by government ministers.

The bill will require the three main retail banks to comply with regional criteria that set the minimum numbers of ATMs per 100,000 people, and the proportion within 10km of an ATM and a cash service point.

It will initially aim to preserve infrastructure at December 2022 levels, accounting for the exit of KBC and Ulster Bank.

Other provisions will provide the Central Bank with regulation-making powers in relation to matters such as reporting, setting service standards, and other matters such as denomination stocking.

The Central Bank will also gain powers to protect the resilience of the cash system, including the authorisation and supervision of cash-in-transit firms in respect of their cash handling activities and related financial services.

Finance minister Michael McGrath said: “Although cash usage has declined in recent years, and this decline accelerated during the pandemic, it is important to protect its role in our society and economy in the future.

“It is also very important that future changes are managed in a controlled, fair and transparent manner. In the absence of a legislative intervention, it is likely that over time we would see more and more ATMs removed from communities across the country and I do not want to see this happen.”

He added: “Allied to access to cash, plans to ensure the ability to spend cash in certain settings are also being advanced. This access to cash legislation coincides with the National Payment Strategy, which is currently being developed by my Department.

“That Strategy will, among other things, look at the acceptance of cash in the future payments system. As part of the development of the National Payment Strategy, a public consultation is currently being undertaken and I would encourage everyone who has interest in the role of cash in our society to have their say as part of that process.”

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