All credit institutions in Ireland are independent commercial entities and the imposition of bank fees and charges is a commercial decision for the bank involved. You will be aware that, as Minister for Finance, I have no statutory role in relation to the charges applied by credit institutions. Under Section 149 of the Consumer Credit Act 1995, as amended, the responsibility for the regulation of bank fees lies with the Central Bank of Ireland.
However, I do appreciate the concerns that you have raised and I welcome the measures that financial institutions have put in place to date to support customers for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak.
These measures include:
- The limit on contactless payments has been increased from €30 to €50. The Banking and Payments Federation Ireland announced on 25th March that several parties including banks, retailers and technology companies were working closely together on completing the rollout of the increased contactless limit by April 1st,
- Several institutions have chosen not to proceed with planned increases in bank charges at this difficult time and I would call on any other banks or other financial institutions not to consider any increases in charges or fees, and
- Many institutions have announced that they will waive contactless fees to enable consumers to make more payments without the need for physical contact.
I am advised by the Central Bank that it is closely monitoring developments related to COVID-19 and that it continues to assess their impact on the economy, the financial system and consumers, as more information becomes available. The Central Bank is engaged with firms across the financial system to ensure that firms are responding effectively to the evolving situation and expect that regulated entities continue to comply with the various rules within the consumer protection framework.