Following many other countries demanding electronic payments to social welfare recipients, Ireland will completely phase out cash payments in its social welfare programs by 2017.
The Department of Social Protection said this “is aimed at removing the very high levels of cash usage in the Irish economy and will contribute to improved national competitiveness”, as part of the new National Payment Plan.
As in other markets, phasing out cash in social welfare payments generally generates opportunities for prepaid cards since many social welfare recipients tend to be un- or under-banked. And many recipients are likely to choose to stay away from the banks even when cash payments are no longer available.
By 2017 the Department of Social Protection wants three quarters of all social welfare payments to be paid directly into accounts in financial institutions, with most of the remainder to be paid electronically into a prepaid card or via a mobile phone.
A recent pilot scheme showed that most people without bank accounts are not interested in opening one, regardless of whether they are free or not.
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