AIB chief Colin Hunt says the bank has moved “way too far and way too fast” after the cash services backlash

AIB’s chief executive said the bank went “way too far and way too fast” in its proposal unveiled in July to remove cash services from 70 branches.

Olin Hunt told the Joint Committee on Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform that had the bank foreseen the backlash, the proposal would never have been made.

“The response was unprecedented in terms of the volume of customer complaints,” he said, adding that the bank reversed course in three days. “I regret that we have caused concern and alarm among our customers.”

He said the bank will continue to provide cash services throughout his tenure at the bank.

“As long as I am CEO of this institution, we will continue to provide our clients with the services they want, in the way they want those services,” he said.

“As long as our customers want us to serve them in this way, it’s off the agenda forever.”

He also dismissed all suggestions that the move to remove cash services from 70 branches was a revenge tactic after the €83.3 million fine imposed by the central bank in June this year.

“There was no connection between the two events,” he commented. However, Mr Hunt warned that the global banking system will look very different in 10 to 20 years.

“I think it is inevitable that banking will look different in 2030 than it does today. There is a movement towards an increasingly digital offering,” he told the committee.

He pointed to the increasing number of digital banks and non-bank lenders that have an “exclusively digital way of interacting”.

He said these changes were already visible within AIB as well and started before the pandemic in 2014.

Over 19 million checks were written in 2014, but that number dropped to 8.7 million by 2020.

Mr Hunt also highlighted other data that he said pointed to rising demand for digital services that had backed the original proposal, adding that the pandemic had accelerated the decline in cash usage.

From 2019 to 2022, customer transactions at branches had fallen 35.3 percent, while cash and check deposit facilities had nearly halved from 14.1 million to 7.7 million.

Mr Hunt said the bank believed its expanded partnership with An Post had ensured “the vast majority of banking services” continued to be provided in local communities in each of the country’s 920 offices.

AIB raised tracker mortgage rates by 0.5 percent in line with the European Central Bank’s July hike. There were no changes in fixed or variable mortgage interest rates.

Mr Hunt said the bank had not made any decisions on the ECB’s rate hike last week but that a decision would be made “over the next few weeks”. He added that the bank will review each official rate hike as it takes place. AIB chief Colin Hunt says the bank has moved “way too far and way too fast” after the cash services backlash

Fry Electronics Team

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