| 6.9°C Dublin

Bank that does not accept cash now says no to cheques

A bank which stopped taking cash in 2010 will now no longer accept cheques.

National Irish Bank wrote to thousands of its customers this week saying that, from April, it will not allow them to lodge cheques at their 28 branches nationwide.

The Danish-owned bank stopped taking cash in its branches two years ago, but it has now gone a step further.

Bizarrely, the bank offers customers cheque books, but won't even accept its own cheques for lodgement.

At the start of 2010, it become the first cashless bank in the country.

Citing security concerns and the cost of handling cash, it told customers it would not accept cash over the counter at its branches, and instructed them to use one of the larger An Post offices to lodge and withdraw cash from their accounts.

Now customers have been told to go to one of more than 200 post offices if they want to lodge a cheque into an NIB branch.

A letter from the bank states: "We have now decided to only offer cheque lodgement services through An Post.

"With effect from April 23, cheque lodgements will no longer be accepted through our 28-branch network and will instead be accepted through any one of 203 post offices nationwide."

Asked how a customer who needed €5,000 in cash would get it, a spokesman for the bank said that a branch could issue a bank draft if the money was needed urgently. This could be taken to a post office and cashed there.

Alternatively, a customer who needed a large amount of cash could get the limit on their automated teller machine (ATM) card increased from the daily maximum of €450 to €5,000 by the bank.

The spokesman added that customers were free to use electronic banking or mobile phone banking to transfer money.

NIB insisted the ban on cheque lodgements would benefit customers as branch staff would have time "to focus on sales and advisory services".

Cheques are due to be phased out and from this year the cheque guarantee cards, which were incorporated into Laser cards, no longer operate.

People will still be able to issue and accept cheques this year, but they will no longer be able to guarantee their cheques by using a Laser/Maestro card.

The guarantee scheme is where Laser or Maestro cards double up as a cheque guarantee up to a certain value. Usually the guarantee covers up to €100.

NIB has been a strong supporter of Government attempts to cut the high use of cash and cheques in this country.

Handling cash and cheques is more expensive than non-cash alternatives such as internet banking or debit or credit cards.

Cash also poses greater security risks. NIB suffered a number of tiger kidnapping robberies in the past.

Irish Independent