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Proposal to ensure no decline in ATMs for cash access

Minister for Finance Michael McGrath is to bring legislative proposals to Cabinet next week to ensure there is no further decline in the number of ATMs for people to access cash in towns and villages around the country.

Speaking about the proposals this afternoon, the minister said: “The usage of cash has fallen by a third in the last four years, but its important that we ensure there is reasonable access to cash across society, so this legislation will ensure there is access to ATMs around the country and we don’t allow the market over time to gradually reduce the availability of ATMs in towns villages and cities.

“That is fundamentally what this legislation is about—to avoid the risk of financial exclusion.”

Minister McGrath acknowledged there is an increasing amount of digitalisation of payments, but he said many people still want to be able to access cash.

He added: “Without an intervention on a legislative front we would see a further reduction over time in the availability of cash, because ATMs will be withdrawn from more and more towns and villages around the country and I don’t want to see that happen.

“I think its important there is reasonable access to cash around the country and this will lay out the criteria whereby ATMs must be available within certain parameters across society to meet the needs of the people of our country.

“We will be be ensuring that the position that prevailed back in 2022 will at least be maintained into the future and there is no diminution in the availability of cash from that time.”

Michael McGrath will bring the proposals to Cabinet next week

Minister McGrath said the legislation will have a provision where any local shortage in the availability of cash can be addressed by means of regulation by the Central Bank and financial institutions who would be obliged to provide ATM services in towns and villages where a deficiency is demonstrated.

“I believe it’s a very important initiative and intervention in that regard and it makes sure that the trend that we are currently seeing which does expose a considerable number of people to the risk of financial exclusion cannot continue.

“That’s why legislation is necessary and I am bringing that forward to Cabinet next week and I know my colleagues are very supportive of this Government initiative,” he said.

The minister also spoke about changes in relation to people being able to spend cash, particularly on essential services.

He said: “Allied to the issue of access to cash we are also examining the right to spend cash, so we are reviewing the national payment strategy which will be completed later this year, and that will result in us defining certain essential services where the ability to use cash is going to be protected.”

“That work is ongoing and will involve important policy decisions, and while we are dealing in this bill with the right to access to cash, the national payment strategy will deal with the right to spend cash in certain defined circumstances and that work is advancing in tandem with the legislation around accessing cash,” the minister added.

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