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u-turn

'We got it wrong, we made a mistake': AIB not planning to return to cashless branch strategy

The bank was pushed to reverse its decision after widespread criticism from the public and politicians.

AIB DOES NOT intend to return to its plan of removing cash from 70 of its branches, according to its CEO.

The bank’s CEO Colin Hunt said it received “very strong” negative feedback from customers on the plan, which would have turned 70 branches ‘cashless’ from late September.

The bank was pushed to reverse its decision after widespread criticism from the public and politicians.

Speaking to Morning Ireland on RTÉ Radio One this morning, Hunt said that customers contacted AIB to “make it clear that they did not want this to happen”.

“We heard the feedback, we listened to it, we acted on it,” he said.

“We’ve reversed that plan, we’ve withdrawn that proposal. It’s off the agenda and branch services will continue as they exist today.”

He promised that the bank would not be closing branches instead of making them cashless and that the 170 branches would remain open for at least his term as CEO.

Asked whether he was surprised by the government’s response to the cashless proposal, Hunt said: “AIB is a publicly listed company and all our communications with our shareholders are governed by various rules. We have formal arrangements for engagement with the Department of Finance and we complied with that.”

“I’m not in the business of trying to spread blame or dodge responsibility. This was the bank’s proposal, which we announced. We gave a lot of thought to the initial proposal, which was all about seeking to future-proof our branch network.”

Look, we got it wrong. We made a mistake and within three days we reversed course, we withdrew the proposal.

“This plan was all about keeping the branches open. It was all about maintaining a strong physical presence in communities around the country. It was all about keeping AIB staff in the communities that we serve.

“The plan is withdrawn. It is not going to be revisited. In 2030, will banking services look different? I think it is inevitable that they will but the lesson for us through this is that we moved far too far, far too fast.

“We’re not going to run ahead of our customers again. Branch services as they are constituted today remain in place.”

The move would have removed cash and cheque facilities from 70 branches, meaning those services would not be available at counters or machines at the banks. 

Any ATMs outside the branches would have been removed and the banks would no longer carry coins, notes, cheques, foreign exchange or bank drafts on site.

The Oireachtas Committee on Finance called AIB to appear before it in August as politicians across the political spectrum denounced its proposal.

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