Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Questions (79)

Mattie McGrath

Question:

79. Deputy Mattie McGrath asked the Minister for Finance if cash is no longer legal tender; if those that do not have card facilities can be refused service; his views on whether this is discriminating against those who do not have access to card facilities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12500/20]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

The Deputy will aware that card payments, and in particular contactless payments, are being promoted in order to support public health policy at this time.

As retail outlets begin to reopen, I am aware that some retailers are choosing to only accept card and contactless payments in store. I understand that this may cause difficultly for consumers who do not have access to debit or credit card facilities.

The Payments Accounts Directive (PAD) was transposed into Irish law in September 2016. From this date, all banks offering payment accounts were required to offer an account with basic features free of charge for at least one year to consumers who do not already have a bank account. These basic features include a debit card, direct debits and the ability to pay for goods and services online.

This means that unbanked customers are able to open a basic bank account whatever their personal financial situation and I would encourage anyone who doesn't have access to a credit union account or An Post account to contact a bank about opening a basic bank account.

Euro notes and coins have legal tender status in Ireland. Where retailers are accepting a limited range of payment options, consumers must be informed of the payment options available in advance of a transaction. This can be achieved, for example, by displaying signs at the till and at the store entrance. If a retailer does not specify clearly in advance of a transaction the means of payment they are prepared to accept, they must accept cash.

I am advised by the Central Bank that banknotes do not represent a particularly significant risk of infection compared with other surfaces that people come into contact with in daily life. Therefore, I would encourage retailers to provide a range of payment options for consumers.