Despite the public and political backlash to the recent attempts at branch closures and the withdrawal of cash services by AIB, the vast majority of people believe that it’s only a matter of time before local banking services, including cash, are significantly curtailed.
A new survey, commissioned by Credit Union Development Association (CUDA) and undertaken by iReach, reveals that as many as 60% anticipate that cash services in banks will be removed in time, with just 6% believing banks will retain these services indefinitely.
The survey of 1,000 people nationwide also found that over half (56%) believe that the responsibility to retain cash services should be centrally positioned in the hands of the Government and/or the Central Bank.
Kevin Johnson, CEO of CUDA spoke of the findings,
“It seems that many people feel we are on borrowed time in terms of the rollout of digital banking and the withdrawal of face-to-face banking services, with 60% of respondents feeling that AIB’s decision to retain cash services is only temporary.
Just 6% of respondents believe that cash services as they currently exist will survive indefinitely, with a further 15% feeling that while they believe cash services will be retained, we will have to pay a lot more for them.
It is very much a sign of the times we are in and the shift to digital banking that one of the fundamental purposes of the banking system as we know – the circulation of cash – is under threat of becoming redundant. There are many sides to the argument – some people will argue that digital is the way forward and a cashless society is the next logical step. Others will maintain that a solely digital-based banking system would only serve a certain sector of society, would skip a large swathe of people who don’t have the requisite skillset to adopt it, and leave the economy over-exposed to a major cyber-attack.”
Mr Johnson commented,
“That’s a hugely significant demographic and sector of our society. Most of these people require access to banking services and expressly, to cash banking services and a walk-in branch. The prospect of national banking service providers orientating their business development in such a way as to potentially disempower over a quarter of a million people requires serious consideration at Government level, and requires policy-making that mitigates such negative societal impacts and detriment – particularly for older consumers.”
The CUDA survey also questioned respondents as to who they feel responsibility to ensure that local communities retain access to cash-banking should fall to, with a third believing that it should remain the responsibilities of the banks to retain services.
Mr Johnson continued,
“Here we see that the majority (56%) believe that the buck stops with the Government and the Central Bank to ensure that people have access to cash banking services in their local communities. A further 30% believe that it’s up to the banks to ensure that local communities have such services.
These numbers are even more extreme amongst KBC and Ulster bank customers, with just 17% believing that it’s up to the banks and 72% saying that it’s up to Government and the Central bank to sort this issue.”
Mr Johnson concluded,
“The retention of cash services in local communities is critical and is a national issue that needs forward-looking centralised planning. In this regard, Credit unions would be happy to support the Government in developing a solid solution to ensure that consumers current and future needs are met.”