Shops, cafes and restaurants could be forced by law to accept cash payments – – Our News, Your Views

Shops, cafes and restaurants could be forced by law to accept cash payments

Shops and cafes may be required by law to accept cash payments to support new rules for banks.

Banks will have to offer customers “reasonable access to cash” under a bill to be introduced by the Finance Department next year.

The requirements could include a minimum number of ATMs per city or region and should put independent ATM operators under the supervision of the central bank.

The move was recommended in the department’s long-awaited retail banking review and yesterday was accepted by the government.

It comes after a public outcry recently forced majority-owned AIB to crack down on a decision to remove cash-handling facilities, including ATMs, from 70 branches.

“People like, or indeed, need to use cash, and uncontrolled changes resulting from individual commercial decisions are leaving them behind,” Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said. “This isn’t fair and it could be damaging to financial inclusion,” reports Independent.

Lenders are now being asked to maintain access to cash deposit and withdrawal facilities at December 2022 levels until the new Cash Access Act becomes law.

The revision does not foresee a minimum threshold for bank branches. “I believe that would be an exceptional intervention into commercial decisions that banks make,” he said, reports Independent.

Separately, officials are considering extending the cash rules to other businesses or industries, such as newsstands or coffee shops, as part of a new payments strategy expected to roll out in 2024.

There are understood to be fears that if more shops and cafes run out of cash, it could overturn soon-to-be rules for banks.

Adrian Cummins, director of the Irish Restaurant Association, said the government should stay out of the business decisions of individual companies.

“We would be seriously advocating against that,” he said. “It needs to be evidence-based and they would have to do an impact assessment [to see] what are the accidental consequences,” reports Independent.

Duncan Graham, Chief Executive of Retail Excellence, said any move needs to be “customer-led, rather than retailer-led and government-led” “There is still a heavy reliance on cash in many industries,” he said.

Vincent Jennings, director of the Association of Convenience Stores and Newsagents, said it was a “social obligation” to accept cash that “possibly” could require legislation.

The review suggests that the government “consider and consult on whether to legislate pre-emptively to give the Minister for Finance the power to require certain classes of firms, sectors or sub-sectors to accept or facilitate (to an appropriate level) the acceptance of cash”. Public bodies should be required to do so, it said, reports Independent.

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