Ireland Believes in Change
Ireland is getting ‘mixed messages’ as the government considers legislation to defend the right to pay in cash ‘while embracing a cashless revolution,’ says consumer and personal finance journalist Sinead Ryan.
Writing for the Irish Independent, she calls on the nation to ‘stop this drift to a cashless society’, arguing that cash has a vital role to play in Ireland’s economy and that ‘it’s one thing encouraging a change of behaviour; quite another to force it.’
On one hand, the Department of Finance recently acknowledged the growing number of businesses refusing to accept cash at busy times and laid out plans for a national payments strategy to be completed in 2024, part of which will ‘consider whether legislation should be introduced to require certain types of businesses and sectors to accept cash.’
This follows 2022’s notorious attempt by Allied Irish Banks to make many of its branches cashless, with the policy rapidly walked back following outrage from politicians, local businesses and rural communities alike, with widespread calls to reconsider led by Prime Minister Micheál Martin.
On the other hand, Ryan speaks from personal experience of the present struggle to access and use cash, relating her difficulty in securing change when she needed a one euro coin to put air into her car’s deflating tyre.
We are told progress means moving to a cashless society. I sincerely hope not.
In the short term, Ryan notes ‘many parts of Ireland still struggle with broadband strength’, making cashless payments unreliable at best and impossible at worst. In the longer term, the resilience of cash—usable offline and without electricity—is just one of many benefits that would be lost in a cashless society, including freedom of choice and financial privacy.