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SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Progress expected on cashless Cork

PLANS for Cork to become the world's first cashless city are still on the agenda, with progress expected in 2018.

Cork City Council is still working with members of Cork Chamber and international businesses to introduce measures to promote the use of electronic payments instead of traditional cash payments.

Assessments of demand are set to be carried out next year, with City Hall keen to here if businesses and consumers are happy to dispense with cash in favour of electronic payments.

Already very common in some parts of the world, Cork would be the first city in Ireland to go cashless if enough support got behind the project.

Pat Ledwidge, deputy chief executive of Cork City Council, said he is hopeful of seeing some elements of the plan roll out in the coming years.

Everyone, including traders and consumers, could benefit, he added.

Mr Ledwidge said, "It is something that stands to benefit everyone.

For smaller traders, for example, how much time and money would they spend on handling cash?"

Progress is still very much on the agenda, Mr Ledwidge added, noting that behind-the-scenes negotiations are ongoing with stakeholders.

Previous initiatives run in the city, including the Cork Cashes Out scheme in 2015, have proven successful.

This voluntary pilot scheme encouraged users to pay by debit card instead of cash in participating stores, with those doing so entered into competitions for a range of prizes.

Mr Ledwidge said that the advent of contactless payments on credit and debit cards this year has accelerated the process.

"There is always an adjustment factor, but contactless payments on cars have certainly made a lot more people familiar with the idea," he said.

"In China, our experience is that everyone uses electronic payments but nobody uses cards - everything is done with mobile phones. It is very impressive."

Services like Google Wallet and Apple Pay are available in Ireland, enabling users to make electronic payments from their bank account via their phone. However, they are not yet as widespread as cash or card payments.

Mr Ledwidge said, "It is something we are working on with Cork Chamber and a number of other stakeholders, including some operators. Some of these already operate within the European Union so it makes it easier to obtain regulatory approval and licences to operate here, but there is still some element of that involved."