Outrage over new BoI restrictions on cash transactions
Bank of Ireland is to restrict cash withdrawals and lodgements in its branches, in a move that has angered its customers.
Customers will no longer be allowed to withdraw cash with the help of a teller in a branch unless the amount is more than €700, the Irish Independent has learned.
And the bank is also limiting cash deposits and cheque lodgements made with the assistance of a staff member, to amounts over €3,000.
Customers will have to use ATMs and self-service devices in branches instead.
Bank of Ireland has 250 branches, and well over one million personal customers.
The Irish Senior Citizens' Parliament said the moves would hit older people hardest, as many are unfamiliar with electronic banking.
It has also emerged that Bank of Ireland is to no longer issue paper statements to the tens of thousands of customers who are signed up for Banking 365. It is thought that around 560,000 people are registered for Banking 365, which allows people to access their money online.
Customers who contacted this newspaper about the changes said the moves to e-banking were discriminatory against older people in particular.
They also questioned the effort the bank has put into notifying them of the changes.
Mairead Hayes of the Irish Senior Citizens' Parliament said her organisation was deeply concerned about the changes, and called on the bank to reverse them for older people.
"Once again, unilateral changes are being made by banks which restrict the ability of older people to access their accounts through the branch networks in face-to-face transactions."
She said many older people will be affected by the Bank of Ireland changes, as they do not have access to digital channels and do not want to use ATMs because of security concerns.
"We have concerns that the desire to move too quickly may be a cause of stress and anxiety and lead to targeting of older people by criminals."
The move toward more e-banking at Bank of Ireland comes after the Central Bank last week introduced a voluntary system of rounding, instead of using 1c and 2c coins.
Last Saturday, the limit for using electronic contactless cards rose from €15 per transaction to €30.
And in the Budget it was announced that there will now be a 12c charge for each ATM transaction.
Bank of Ireland said it was making the changes from the middle of this month.
"The withdrawal of up to €700 will take place via ATM, and the lodgements of up to €3,000 cash and 15 cheques will take place via the lodgement ATM.
"Account balances can be checked using these devices also. Customers can also increase their card withdrawal limit to €1,300."
The bank said payments, lodgements and withdrawals in excess of these amounts can be facilitated over the counter, and business customers can use priority drop facilities.
It added that Banking 365 customers affected by the move to electronic statements could opt back in to receiving paper statements.
Other banks said they had no plans to raise the cash limits for in-branch cash withdrawals and lodgements.
Meanwhile, just 5,374 customers changed their current account provider in the first half of this year, the Central Bank said.
This meant just 0.1pc of customers switched their current account in the first six months of 2015.