Move is part of a €27m investment in firm’s 60 Irish shops
Three is to become the first major retail chain in Ireland to go permanently cashless across its 60 nationwide stores.
The move is being done as part of a €27m upgrade of the mobile operator’s retail shops here.
The telecoms company says that it is a logical next step given current consumer trends.
“Everyone's cashless now,” said Elaine Carey, Three’s chief commercial officer for Ireland and the UK.
“[In telecom retail] no-one’s taking cash now, partly because of advice from government guidelines.”
Three’s cashless transition will happen in 13 of its 60 stores this year, with the majority of the remaining nationwide units converted next year.
The move comes as wider industry representatives speak of a wave of retailers implementing a cashless-only policy in the near future.
“Clearly the pandemic has altered the way we use cash,” said Duncan Graham, managing director of Retail Excellence.
“There are predictions that retail will be completely cashless in the next five or six years because of trends such as tapping from phones and apps like Revolut. It stands to reason that we will see tech-savvy businesses like Three go down that route early.”
Mr Duncan added that he expects cash to remain a mainstream retail transaction method in the future.
A recent Central Bank report said that despite the general switch to cashless transactions during the pandemic, the option of paying by cash remains important for reasons of inclusivity.
The European Central Bank has also urged retailers to keep cash as a payment option.
Ms Carey said that Three “hasn’t had any issues with cashless” operations to date.
“If something does come up for a customer who is vulnerable or needs [cash] support, we will obviously make an exception,” she said.
“There will be a backup. But there’ll be no cash on the premises.”
Three’s cashless move is part of a wider €27m investment to turn its 60 Irish retail outlets into “lifestyle experience stores”. The refurbished shops will include new ranges of smart home devices and internet-connected gadgets, as well as smartphones.
“Physical stores aren’t dead,” said Ms Carey.
“Almost two thirds of people we talked to said they want to be able to shop offline somewhere. But they want somewhere nicer,” she added.
The design change in Three’s retail stores is being rolled out in Ireland, but not in the UK.