I am seeking views from across Irish society though an open public consultation. A consultation paper on the National Payments Strategy has been prepared to guide the discussion and is available on the department’s website.
This consultation is now open for submissions, until February 14, 2024.
The responses will form an important part of the National Payments Strategy to be published in 2024. It’s a great opportunity for everyone in Ireland to give their view on the way payments work and how they would like to see them develop in the future, including the issues that we need to be concerned about.
I want the people of Ireland to be able to make use of the most modern technology available, while keeping a balance for those who prefer more traditional means of payment. Everyone should have sufficient choice in how they make their day-to-day payments.
Our payments system in Ireland should embrace the positive changes that technological developments can bring, while also providing for the stability and consistency of maintaining cash as a source for payments.
I want the people of Ireland to be able to make use of the most modern technology available
Many of us feel the benefits of mobile payments, especially the ease of which we can make payments now, be it from your watch or phone.
Technology can also play a key role in protecting vulnerable groups and it should promote and facilitate financial inclusion.
Protecting vulnerable groups is a strong priority of mine, and, in this regard, I believe cash plays a pivotal role in ensuring all members of society can adequately participate in the Irish payments ecosystem, and not be left behind. That is why, in the development of the strategy, the issue of cash acceptance is being examined, and our work will assess if mandatory cash acceptance is necessary, and if so, in what sectors.
This work will also look at ways to facilitate cash acceptance. Access to key services cannot be restricted by the way that you pay for these services, regardless of whether they are public services or provided by businesses vital to local communities.
It is clear to me that transferring money within Ireland should not take hours or even days to complete
While underlining that traditional means of payment such as cash are of significant importance, it also bears mentioning that certain aspects of the Irish payment system must be modernised.
It is clear to me that transferring money within Ireland should not take hours or even days to complete, as it so often does currently. This state of affairs is unfortunately unique in Europe and it is a barrier to consumers and business alike. Instant payments should be widely available to Irish citizens, as they are in other countries. To this end, EU law will soon require instant payments, ultimately driving up supply in this country. However, as a matter of principle, legislation should not drive innovation.
The benefits of instant payments are many. Instant payments allow people and businesses to make and receive payments more conveniently and efficiently. With instant payments, people can easily split a restaurant bill with friends and receive funds immediately. Businesses, especially small and medium-sized companies, can use instant payments to exert more control over their cash flow.
The infrastructure allowing the transfer of money in seconds is widely available across Europe and it is up to the industry in Ireland to ensure that it connects to this infrastructure and makes use of the most sophisticated technology to provide a best-in-class service for the people of Ireland.
The infrastructure allowing the transfer of money in seconds is widely available across Europe
Instant payments will facilitate a greater circulation of liquidity throughout the economy, making it easier for business owners to meet their running costs while also ensuring consumers are using the most efficient payment service possible. Money will hit people’s accounts and pockets far quicker than before and this can only be a good thing.
Fraud is also a critical area that will be considered as part of the National Payments Strategy. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in fraudulent activity in the payments space, such as scam texts and calls.
The Commission for Communications Regulation stated in 2023 that “over 90pc of adults in Ireland have received a scam call to their mobile phone in the last year, while 84pc have received some form of scam text”.
There has been progress at an EU level to tackle fraud, however, I feel it is important that the National Payments Strategy examines and analyses payment fraud to see if it can identify further domestic measures that could be taken.
These are some of the issues which are being considered under the strategy.