AIB has said its plan to bring in contactless payment charges has been put on hold after calls for society to go cash-free in response to the coronavirus.
AIB has changed its stance on the introduction of charges for contactless transactions in response to criticism as Ireland and the world tries to contain the spread of the coronavirus. One change suggested to reduce potential contact with the virus was to favour contactless transactions over cash.
AIB previously said it was to introduce a charge of 1c per transaction for customers, in addition to a number of other maintenance fees, starting from 30 May.
However, in a brief statement, AIB has since said: “In the light of the current Covid-19 outbreak, AIB is suspending the planned introduction of the contactless fee.”
Other banks still charging
The remaining fees and charges – such as a quarterly fee of €4.50 – will still come in at the end of May. These new charges were part of a measure by the bank to change from its previous policy where any current account holder with a balance of more than €2,500 would not have to pay fees.
Customers on different accounts – including student and graduate accounts – will continue to avail of no charges. Similarly, those with AIB mortgages paying through direct debit will be exempt.
Two of the biggest mobile-only banks available in Ireland – N26 and Revolut – do not place fees on contactless transactions.
However, other Irish banks have been charging for contactless transactions for some time now, with both Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank charging 1c per contactless transaction. In the days following AIB’s announcement, Bank of Ireland said it was temporarily waiving the contactless fee for the duration of the public health crisis. However, Ulster Bank said it has no plans to change its fees structure.
Figures from December last year showed that there was a 44pc year-on-year increase in the number of contactless payments in Ireland. In the third quarter of 2019 alone, 1.5m contactless payments were made.
Updated, 11.51am, 18 March 2020: This article was updated to include news that Bank of Ireland will be temporarily waiving its contactless fees and that Ulster Bank has no plans to introduce a similar change to its fees.