ATMs must dispense notes smaller than €50, Oireachtas committee urges

Draft report calls for greater availability of €20 notes to facilitate those on low income or social welfare as well as review of accessibility of withdrawal machines

The Government should mandate banks and other ATM operators to ensure notes lower than €50 are available to customers, an Oireachtas committee has found.

A report by the Oireachtas finance committee, which has been examining the Coalition’s Access to Cash Bill, recommends that an obligation be inserted into the legislation to make denominations of cash lower than €50 available.

The report highlights a submission made to the committee during its hearings by the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (Mabs) which stated that the amount of €20 is regularly unavailable for withdrawal.

This, the report states, has the effect of “forcing a minimum withdrawal of €50 and that the consumer may not have this amount in funds available to them, especially if they are low-income and/or in receipt of social welfare”.

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The committee also recommended that access to public transport, as well as geographic factors and the demographics of the population in an area are given “special consideration” when an assessment is being made of any potential local deficiency.

The report also welcomes a provision in the legislation that allows the Minister for Finance to prohibit or cap the charging of access fees for the use of ATMs.

Committee chair John McGuinness said that access to cash must be accommodated for people who want to continue using it. “Whatever the future of banking is, the Government must insist that banks provide cash facilities and without customers being penalised,” he said.

The committee has also recommended that it be a prescribed requirement that ATM operators provide accessible machines which have a headphone socket and a text-to-speech functionality to assist those with visual impairment, and that a review be conducted on the accessibility of the existing network with a view to updating the stock if it is required.

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