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IBF predicts Irish euro changeover will be ‘more traumatic’ than most Back  
As the countdown to euro changeover continues, Irish preparations for the big day have come under scrutiny and criticism has been levied at Ireland’s dependence on paper transactions.

John Collins, incoming president of the Irish bankers Association, predicted that Ireland’s changeover to the euro would be ‘more traumatic’ than most, because of the payment system’s reliance on paper transactions.

He made his comments during a speech to the annual general meeting of the IBF.

Collins said ‘Our excessive reliance on paper, including cash, means that the transition to the euro at the end of this year will be proportionately more traumatic in Ireland than in many other eurozone countries. Let there be no doubt that everyone involved in the payments system - and, for the purposes of the euro changeover, everyone includes the state, banks, retailers and all businesses - faces a daunting task to achieve this transition without serious business disruption.’

Collins called for a speedier transition away from paper transactions. ‘The Government and banks have together been pursuing the implementation of a National payments strategy and the creation of a Universal Bank Account, both of which would facilitate a substantial move by the State and by every organisation currently affected by or involved in payments towards electronic transactions. The stakes re extraordinarily high for the nation. National efficiency demands that we speed progress towards greater automation in payments and a reduction in the mountain of paper which currently characterises our payments systems. We lag most European countries in his respect, with adverse consequences for the state, the banks, business and, ultimately, consumers who bear the higher costs of outmoded systems.’

Continuing on the theme of the euro changeover Collins said that organisations in Ireland must pull together to make the implementation as smooth as possible. ‘No one party can rely on the other to carry the load - we must all play our part in getting the new currency into circulation and eliminating the old as quickly as possible. The longer the changeover takes to achieve, the more costly, confusing and consumer unfriendly it will be.’

The IBF plan to launch a major consumer information campaign in September designed to convey basic information on the banking implications of the change. Collins said Sepetember was chosen because ‘we hope that there will be sufficient sense of urgency around the project to ensure that the messages are hears and acted upon.’

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