I agree with Rural TDs: A Cashless AIB Is Not For Me – Fatima Gunning

As we now know, earlier today AIB reversed the decision to go cashless in 70 branches nationwide.

Here’s why I wasn’t willing to abide by the proposed new terms. 

As an AIB customer I was shocked and disappointed to receive an email informing me that my local branch on Church Road Greystones will be ‘going cashless’ come September. 

The email I received makes the case that: “A review of our banking services has shown a steep decline of cash usage and cheque transactions.”

It went on to say, “This means we will not have notes, coins, cheques, foreign exchange, bank drafts; and will remove any drop safes and night safes.” 

Most shockingly it continued, “We will also remove the ATM outside this branch.”  

I was advised that my nearest port of call to do something as simple as withdraw cash – without pesky fees –  will be Bray, some five miles away. 

I don’t drive so the idea of having to take the bus to another town in order to access an array of basic financial services is – plainly stated – a pain in the bottom. 

Despite being technically a millennial, I don’t use internet banking – and thus far – I don’t want to. 

Independent Roscommon TD Michael Fitzmaurice said it best when speaking to The Irish Times, he recalled that “The Government put a lot of money into AIB to keep it afloat years ago”.

He continued that the AIB in Castlerea,  of which he is a customer,  is “basically becoming a walk-in service that you’ll maybe talk to someone and go for a mortgage. Other than that it’s nothing else.”

What about Greystones’ elderly population? Not to mention the older people from all the other little towns across Ireland that will be deprived of basic accessible financial services? 

Older people who are ‘shy of technology’ and prefer – as is their right – to use cash? 

I think many of our older generation may not even recognise parts of Ireland anymore, and now this. Human interaction is vital for all of us, and for many retired folks going to the bank  and having a short chat with a teller or fellow customer,  may be a valuable source of social interaction. 

I remember some years ago hearing of rural post offices being closed, and how for many the lovely old Oifig An Phoist was the heart of their town and a place for connection and community.

AIB said it planned “to hold Digital Advice Evenings to support customers wishing to familiarise themselves more with internet and mobile banking.”

That sounds nice, but it wasn’t what many of us signed up for, and I don’t remember being asked about these huge changes. 

Like Michael Fitzmaurice,I was seriously thinking about taking my business elsewhere.

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