Irish banks waive fees on transfers to Ukraine

Charges stalled on money sent to families, friends and charities in the country

Bank of Ireland and AIB, the Republic’s two largest banks, said on Monday that they are waiving fees on money transfers to Ukraine as the country finds itself grappling with a humanitarian crisis after Russia invaded it last week.

Bank of Ireland and AIB, the Republic's two largest banks, said on Monday that they are waiving fees on money transfers to Ukraine as the country finds itself grappling with a humanitarian crisis after Russia invaded it last week.

Speaking to reporters after the Bank of Ireland reported full-year results, chief executive Francesca McDonagh said the move had been back-dated to February 24th, when Russia invaded its western neighbour.

A spokesman for AIB said the group is now automatically refunding AIB international payment charges from customers “who send money to family, friends and charities in Ukraine”.

A spokeswoman for Permanent TSB, the Republic's other continuing retail bank, was not immediately in a position to comment on their approach to transfers to Ukraine.

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“We know that some people really need to send money to friends, family and employees,” Ms McDonagh said. The chief executive noted, however, that customer transfers to Ukraine are extremely low normally and that the bank has not yet seen a significant uptick in money being moved to Ukraine as a result of the crisis.

Ms McDonagh said the bank does not have any direct exposures to entities in Ukraine or Russia, which has been subjected to waves of international sanctions within the past week.

System

This includes a move by the EU, the US and other Western allies over the weekend to cut a number of Russian banks off from the key so-called Swift international payments messaging system used to move money around the globe.

The Bank of Ireland chief executive said the main impact for the group would be the effect of energy and other commodity inflation resulting from the upheaval on its customers.

While the bank’s economists recently forecast that Irish consumer prices would rise by 4.7 per cent this year, followed by a 2.5 per cent uptick in 2023, this does not reflect the potential impact from the geopolitical crisis. Ms McDonagh said that there is now “upward pressure” on those estimates.

Ms McDonagh said that Bank of Ireland’s system for dealing with transactions potentially affected by sanctions is “quite automated”.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times