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Charlie Weston: 'Message from the banks to customers: do your business online - and don't bother us'

Charlie Weston


Cashing in: Euronet is seen as the favourite to take over the ATM network and is thought to have bid around €20m.

Cashing in: Euronet is seen as the favourite to take over the ATM network and is thought to have bid around €20m.

Cashing in: Euronet is seen as the favourite to take over the ATM network and is thought to have bid around €20m.

The banks have a very long charge sheet.

We bailed them out more than a decade ago, and they are not one bit grateful for it.

As a thanks for saving them they charge the second-highest variable mortgage rates in the eurozone.

Over the last few years they have also repaid us by imposing a raft of fees and charges for using our current accounts, they have closed branches and restricted the handling of cash in branches for customers.

Then there is the never-ending reduction in the interest paid on savings, to the point where most of the banks pay virtually nothing on deposits.

Overcharging of customers is a regular occurrence, while there are constant IT problems which mean people often have problems receiving payments into their accounts.

And we haven't even mentioned the grotesque tracker mortgage scandal that will cost them more than €1bn, and has affected at least 40,000 people, causing some to lose their homes.

Now the banks are selling off their ATM networks, in a move that can only be bad for consumers.

There are fears that charges and fees for withdrawing your cash are now on the way.

The largest independent operator of ATMs in this market, US giant Euronet, already charges tourists fees for accessing their money from Euronet machines.

Consumer groups are concerned that a dominant provider of ATMs, other than the banks, will impose fees and charges on bank customers here for accessing their cash.

This would be in addition to the existing charges imposed by banks for withdrawing our own cash from an ATM.

Bank of Ireland charges its customers 25c for cash withdrawals, with AIB charging 35c unless certain conditions are met to avail of fee-free banking.

The banks are selling up because the existing ATM portfolio is old and needs big investment. So old are the machines, with many of them dating from the 1990s, that they cannot accept important software updates. The only solution is to rip them out and replace them with new models.

Banks see the operation of the cash machines as costly, and they argue that the use of cash is decreasing in favour of internet shopping, contactless card use and mobile payments.

ATM robberies are not really a factor in the decision to sell off large chunks of the networks as most of the machines being sold are in shops, rather than on the walls of branches where they are vulnerable to criminals using JCBs to make off with them.

However, the sale of around 1,000 ATMs by the two main banks is also another sign of the depersonalising of banking in this country.

The message to customers from bankers seems to be: do your banking yourself by going online, use your phone more, get out your bank card for contactless purchases and forget using cash. And don't bother us.

Irish Independent