Published: Thu, 16 May 2013
Sean Kelly MEP (Ireland South) wants every EU citizen to have access to basic banking services, including a bank account and a debit card.
“Access to basic banking services is a matter of social inclusion. Every citizen should have access to a bank account and the use of a debit card,” Mr Kelly said in Brussels today.
“Debit cards offer a safer and more practical way for individuals to manage payments, instead of carrying cash. However, the fees charged for bank cards need to be considered in order to ensure people are not excluded due to unaffordability.
“Using a basic bank account for a time could also help previously ‘unbanked’ individuals to be in a better position to gain access to credit other than high cost credit when they build up a good banking record.”
The EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, Michel Barnier, is expected to propose that every EU citizen have the right to basic banking services this week, which Mr Kelly would welcome.
“We cannot discuss access to banking services without also addressing the switch to more online banking services. While traditional banking counters must be maintained as a matter of service in all regional areas, it is understandable that a great deal of banking will now take place electronically online. So I am also calling on Commissioner Barnier to consider supportive measures to increase e-literacy in terms of online banking amongst EU citizens so that all members of society can use online banking services unhindered should they wish to,” Mr Kelly continued.
In Ireland, approximately 17% of Irish people living in households have no current account while around 10% of the Irish adult population has no bank account at all. In March 2011, the Irish Government made a commitment to review the options available to achieve financial inclusion. The aim of this was to decrease the level of financial exclusion across Ireland over a 3-5 year period.
“The first priority is to ensure all citizens are able to access basic banking services and local banking services must be maintained in all regional areas, within reason, to facilitate that. In addition, e-banking facilities must be promoted and made user-friendly for those unfamiliar with the internet,” MEP Kelly added.