IT is just a few months since Bank of Ireland changed the terms for operating its current accounts.
The move means that all customers who previously kept a certain amount on balance with the banks to avoid fees or reduced fee, will now face banking charges.
Fast forward to this week and the bank has announced it is closing 88 branches in the State. Another 15 are to go in the North.
It seems that the deal from Bank of Ireland for its customers is that they have to pay more but will get even less.
It is little wonder people in this country are cynical about banks.
And the announcement of the whole-scale culling of branches across the country comes just a few days after the bombshell confirmation from Ulster Bank that it is pulling the plug in this country.
That puts at risk another 88 branches, many of which are likely to close.
We could see more than 170 branches of both Ulster and Bank of Ireland shuttered in the near future.
That is a grim scenario, particularly for rural towns and villages that will feel the stuffing is being knocked out of them with the loss of banking facilities. The elderly and other people who do not use online banking will be hardest hit, while businesses that generate cash will also suffer.
Some nine towns will lose a Bank of Ireland branch where there is already at threat of closure of an Ulster Bank branch.
In truth, the writing was on the wall for the 88 BoI branches since this time last year when the bank said it was “temporarily closing” 101 branches.
It said these were small offices where it was not possible for staff and customers to practice social distancing.
When many of them did reopen, there was no counter service available, leaving little doubt that their numbers were up.
Bank boss Francesca McDonagh says that three-out-of-four customers in the branches that are due to close had not set foot in them in the past year.
There is an increasing move to online banking, Ms McDonagh says, while the bank made a loss of €742m last year.
However, the Financial Services Union has accused the bank of punishing people for observing the rules during the pandemic. Their reward to lose a key service in their area.
In the UK, the financial services regulator has pressed banks to avoid branch closures during the pandemic.
Don’t expect any such pro-consumer move from the Central Bank in this country. Hands off seems to be the mantra from regulators here to many consumer issues.
Cork seems to be the big loser in the Bank of Ireland branch cull, as it is losing nine branches.
Dublin will see eight go, with Limerick set to lose seven branches, and Donegal five.
For retail banking staff in both Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank, the prospects of a new job in the same sector are now slim.
AIB has around 200 branches, with another 70 in EBS. In December, it said it was closing five AIB branches.
How long now before it decides to mimic Bank of Ireland with a larger cull of its network?
One way or the other, this year is set to be characterised by massive upheaval in banking in this country.