Bank of Ireland Invite to Financial Wellness Talk as ATM Sell-off Concerns Rise

Castleisland Chamber Alliance officer Neil Browne (right) conveying an invitation from Bank of Ireland while Kerry Sinn Féin candidate, Cllr. Pa Daly highlights the Irish banks’ ongoing sell-off of their ATM machines. ©Photographs: John Reidy

Two contrasting messages arrived by Email recently and both concern Bank of Ireland.

One is warm and inviting,  the other unveils the icy cold face of business to which huge streaks of rural Ireland have been exposed in recent years.

The first came from Castleisland Chamber Alliance officer, Neil Browne who was passing on the following invite from bank:

“We cordially invite you and your staff members to a Financial Wellness Talk by Bank of Ireland, in association with Castleisland Chamber Alliance, on February 4th at 6pm at Bank Of Ireland, Main Street, Castleisland. Finger food will be served.

Helpful Hints

If you’re looking for helpful hints and advice on how to improve your financial wellbeing,

Bank of Ireland Financial Wellbeing Coach Linda Ryan will present ways to help you with moneymatters, including: Building financial security; Money facts of life; Essential ingredients to healthy money and finances; Budgeting and planning.  We would be delighted to meet you there.”

Deep Concern in Communities

Then Kerry Sinn Féin general election candidate, Cllr. Pa Daly sent the following:

Plans by Bank of Ireland and AIB to sell off ATM cash machines is causing deep concern in communities across the county.

He called on the government to intervene in the situation via the Central Bank to get clarity on the plans and to ensure that banks live up to their obligations to the community.

“Plans by the AIB and Bank of Ireland to sell off ATMs across the state is causing deep concern in rural communities,” said Cllr. Daly.

Important Services Withdrawn

“The banks have already closed branches in towns all over the country and have withdrawn important services.

“That they are now going to sell off ATMs is more bad news for bank customers and it’s further evidence that the banks are failing to invest properly in rural infrastructure.

“People are now rightly worried that if these ATMs are bought over by independent operators, consumers will face more expensive charges for transactions.

Higher Transaction Charges

“Rural communities will be affected most by this ATM sell-off and are potentially facing much higher transaction charges.

“People have already seen so many local post offices close. Elderly people in particular are worried by this latest development.

“The government needs to intervene in this situation via the Central Bank to get clarity on the plans and to ensure that banks live up to their public service obligations to the community,” said Cllr. Daly.

Irish Independent Article

Writing in The Irish Independent last week, Charlie Weston said that banks are engaged in a massive sell-off of their ATM networks in a move that has raised fears there will be a hike in fees for withdrawing money from the machines.

Bank of Ireland is selling off a network of 700 ATMs, while AIB is seeking bids for 375 of its cash machines, the paper learned.

A Quarter of Machines Sold

“The 1,000-plus cash machines being sold are largely based in retail outlets, and represent more than a quarter of all cash machines in the country,” according to Mr. Weston.

“There are currently around 3,000 ATMs owned by banks, and another 750 owned by independent providers.

“There are worries that rural areas will be the big losers. Consumer groups say companies that own ATMs independently of banks are likely to impose charges and fees for using them.

Addition to Current Fees

“This would be in addition to the fees imposed by banks for withdrawing 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.

Ulster Bank has already sold a network of 400 ATMs to US giant Euronet. That company now owns 600 ATM machines here, making it one of the dominant operators in the sector.

“People in other countries are charged fees of up to €3 every time they want to withdraw cash from independently operated ATMs,” the reporter concluded.