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Bank Charges

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 24 March 2021

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Questions (1032)

Claire Kerrane

Question:

1032. Deputy Claire Kerrane asked the Minister for Social Protection the steps that can be taken to limit the bank charges on persons living abroad who are receiving their pensions into non-Irish bank accounts; if her attention has been drawn to the recent change of bank for payments and the new charges on pension recipients living overseas; the number of persons receiving pensions abroad; the number who have been impacted by these bank charges; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15688/21]

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Written answers (Question to Social)

The Department of Social Protection is in the process of changing its banker to Danske Bank.  This is on foot of the Government’s decision in 2017 to tender for a single banking service for all Government Departments and Offices, a contract which was awarded to Danske Bank in 2018.

My Department uses the bank for both cheque and electronic fund transfer (EFT) payments, i.e. funds transferred directly into a person’s account in a financial institution.  Payments to people resident outside the state are generally made by EFT as this is the most efficient and cost effective method of delivering a payment.

All Social Welfare EFT payments made to beneficiaries living outside the Single European Payments Area (SEPA) are made by Danske via correspondent banks.  This is a foreign intermediary bank which forwards the payments to Social Welfare recipients in that country.  The EFT payments must be processed as international payments to comply with national and international anti-money laundering (AML) regulations. 

Earlier this month, the Department moved its foreign EFT payments to beneficiaries outside of the SEPA zone to Danske Bank.  As a result of this change, U.S. and Canadian banks levied cross-border payment charges on their own customers' Irish pension payments.  There are approximately 6,400 pension recipients in USA or Canada receiving a pension payment from this Department.  It is not known how many of these pension recipients are impacted by the charges.  However, the Department wrote to all such customers in January, informing them of the potential of charges being levied on their payments by their own bank.

Danske Bank is currently in contact with its correspondent banks in relation to the matter.

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