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July 22, 2022

The Chambers Ireland Executive Forum met with Brian Hayes, CEO of Banking and Payments Federation Ireland on Thursday 21st July.

A meeting was held in Dundalk on Thursday by Chambers Ireland Executives including Tralee Chamber CEO Colette O’Connor to discuss a number of items including the move by AIB to make a number of branches cashless and the withdrawal of KCB and Ulster Bank from the Irish Market.

Ms O’Connor highlighted the need to give greater consideration to rural communities and particularly the impact that cashless banks will have in Kerry. She also expressed concern about the speed at which banks expected customers to move to digital as unrealistic. “Businesses accept that they will need to alter their structures and make the move towards digitalisation. We saw this during the pandemic when many businesses optimised the opportunities available to them online. The speed at which banks expect businesses to move now so soon after the impacts of the pandemic is very challenging. While we welcome the fact there are no branch closures, we feel it’s essential to have fully operating banks at each end of the county, given the geographical spread. One of the challenges here is we have a huge influx of visitors into Kerry each year, thus providing greater cash spend in isolated parts of the county where you have significant numbers of hospitality and subsidiary businesses. It’s a big ask for these business people to now be expected to make journey’s into the main centres in Tralee, Killarney and Listowel. The only in person option that will be available will be with An Post who still hold a number of rural offices in Kerry and have recently expanded their cash and cheque services.

There is further concern amongst the Chamber network for the potential of fraud while KBC and Ulster Bank withdraw from the Irish market, both banks gave Irish customers six months’ notice to transfer their accounts, Ulster Bank in April and KCB from June 1st. To date the numbers that have made the move is less than 50%, which indicates there could be a period of disruption in the coming months between October and December. Businesses who have KBC or Ulster Bank accounts should make provision to accommodate payment delays while also exercising caution. We welcome the fact that other financial institutions are bringing in extra resources to facilitate new account openings from both banks and would encourage KBC and Ulster Bank customers to move their accounts sooner rather than later. We also encourage all banking customers to be vigilant with reports of fraudulent activity increasing since the withdrawal began.

Tralee Chamber calls on the government to support the reconsideration of this move by Allied Irish Banks.

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