The CEO of the Banking and Payments Federation, Brian Hayes, has said that despite the move to contactless payments during the lockdown, there will always be bank branches.
"While there had been a move to cash recently along with greater online transactions, there will never be a question of one or the other," he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.
Mr Hayes was commenting on a survey carried out by the Federation which highlighted the movement away from cash in recent weeks.
“There are fewer branches today than was the case a decade ago, and the branch network is an important part of a bank's offering in terms of its reach into communities, its distribution channels, but what you see in the survey we've produced today is the movement away from cash, the movement online and the opportunities that provides to the sector in terms of growing the economy and its contribution to its customers so it's never a question of one or the other, it's both and making sure the offering is there for customers who need it.”
Mr Hayes pointed out that the research had highlighted that that there had been significant consumer change over the course of the last six weeks. “Whether that sticks in terms of new behaviour we'll have to wait and see.
“I think it's fair to say that much of this change was already taking place in advance of Covid - what's happened since then is that the trends in online banking reduced cash transactions across the banking system, eCommerce, those trends will now be really accelerated as a consequence of Covid.
“Ultimately it is about customer experience, it's around doing things that customers want to do, eventually the transition will be absolutely the case, much of this is around using your smart phone for the purposes of your banking needs and how the sector and the industry responds to that and delivers that kind of consumer choice, that easy access for business customers and personal customers is going to be the real mark of success over the course of the next while.
“We've shown in the last number of weeks how the banking system was able to change very quickly for the purposes of contactless payments going from €30 to €50 which was very important, the 1.5million transactions per day.
“The whole sector was able to respond to the whole payment break issue - 120,000 payment breaks delivered over a six week period by the Irish banks, so those kind of changes that we saw beforehand will be accelerated. But you will always have branches.”