‘Overwhelming’ public support for protection of cash use, report shows

Submissions from the public will be ‘an important input’ to new national payments strategy, says Minister for Finance Michael McGrath

Access to cash and its acceptance as payment for public services are key issues the Government should address when developing its new national payments strategy, members of the public have told the Department of Finance.

On Wednesday, it published a report summarising about 85 submissions from individuals and organisations across the public and private sector to a public consultation, part of a wide-ranging review of the Republic’s payments system.

Some 66 per cent of submissions made by members of the public raised the issue of cash acceptance, according to the report, with roughly 56 per cent of the overall total of submissions mentioning the issue.

“In relation to ATMs, a number of submitters noted concerns surrounding fees being charged and in particular, access fees for using an ATM,” the department said. “Some noted ATM fees should be covered by legislation, noting that affordable costs to access cash should be the same regardless if a customer is receiving it from an in-branch ATM.”


Cashback services in retail settings are particularly important for people who are in vulnerable circumstances, it was noted. “Additionally, it was also noted that cash is a useful tool for people who are budgeting and also that the colour and shape of notes and coins is used by some people with digital and literacy needs.”

Meanwhile, almost two-fifths of submissions to the public consultation referenced cash acceptance in their contribution. The same proportion of respondents mentioned cash acceptance in the public sector, with half of these noting it should be mandated or at least facilitated by public sector bodies.

One respondent noted that if public bodies stopped accepting cash, “this would have disproportionate effects on marginalised groups in society”.

Roughly two-fifths also raised the issue of cash acceptance in the private sector. The department said there was “overwhelming support for universal cash acceptance”, with 75 per cent of submitters noting it would be preferable for private sector businesses to accept both cash and electronic payments to maximise access and choice.

In a statement, Minister for Finance Michael McGrath, who initiated the review of the Republic’s payments system last year, said it was clear from the submissions that access and choice of payment methods are important issues for the public. He said submissions on those issues will be “an important input” in the finalisation of the national payments strategy this year.

The department said the final strategy will set out a “roadmap for the future evolution” of the payments system, “taking account of developments in digital payments, cash usage and how future changes should be made to the legislative criteria relating to access to cash.”

In its submission earlier this year, the Central Bank of Ireland said cash access must be safeguarded as part of the strategy.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times