The range of payment options currently offered by the Department to pay customers includes electronic information transfer (EIT) through the post office network, electronic fund transfer (EFT) to the customer's account at a bank, building society or certain credit unions that have been authorised by the banking and credit union regulators. Cheque payments are also provided.
Government policy aims to facilitate the greater use of electronic payment systems in the economy in the interests of developing a modern payments environment in Ireland. This would ultimately reduce the amount of cash required in the economy and would reduce overhead costs borne in the first instance by retailers, such as insurance. In this regard we are currently developing a new Payments Strategy to enable the Department to continue to modernise the payment of welfare benefits in line with wider Government policies such as the National Payment Strategy.
As part of the development of this strategy, my Department issued a request for information (RFI) and received information on potential alternative payment solutions from a large range of companies and agencies. The options included prepaid debit cards and other card options as well as payment by EFT or by mobile phone, so called m-payments. The efficiency and costs associated with various payment channels are being considered as part of this process and will inform the development of the strategy. The strategy also takes into account international developments in delivering welfare payments and the need for good and effective controls. I expect to publish the strategy by the end of this year.