Cheques obsolete? IPSO, the Irish Payments Services Organisation, has called for cheques to be eliminated by 2016. The organisation described Ireland as amongst the most inefficient countries in Europe when it comes to embracing electronic payment methods. It says the country’s reliance on cheques and cash is costing the economy up to €1.4 billion a year. IPSO says the cheque is now ‘an obsolete form of payment’. Chief executive Pat McLoughlin told the National Payments Conference in Dublin that a shift to electronic payments would boost competitiveness. New EU payment system The European Commission and the European Central Bank have launched the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), a plan to facilitate and harmonise European financial transfers. SEPA covers the 27 EU member states plus Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Switzerland. The system will enable people to make payments throughout the euro area as quickly, safely and easily as they make national payments, the commission says. Under SEPA, all euro payments are considered domestic. Speaking in Dublin at the Irish launch, Central Bank Governor John Hurley said the system would do for credit transfers, direct debits and card payments what the euro had done for cash. The direct debit scheme will not be available until November 2009. Henry Hippo is back He’s back, Henry Hippo that iconic children’s character. He introduced the idea of saving to a generation of Irish children and now the Ulster Bank has re-introduced the hungry Hippo. Designed to incentivise children to get into the habit of saving, the Ulster Bank urfirst Account will have a range of fun-based activities designed to make it attractive for children to save. Kids will get their very own Henri Hippo moneybox which can be fed with excess pocket money. Other Henri Hippo goodies will include pencils and keyrings and a website with educational fun games designed to teach children about the value of money. The urfirst Account can be opened with as little as €5 in your local Ulster Bank branch in Castlerea, Glenamaddy or Roscommon and will be available for children up to 11 years. It is an instant access savings account paying credit interest of 2.3 percent AER once a year. Savings month at AIB AIB is running a savings and investment month in all its branches in County Roscommon during April. This will focus on AIB’s wide range of short, medium and long-term savings and investment products. AIB has an accredited financial adviser available in every branch nationwide offering experienced advice on how best customers can meet their saving and investment goals. Customers can avail of a number of different deposit offers including: A variable interest rate of 7.30 percent AER on AIB’s Regular Saver Account. This allows customers to save between €10 and €300 per month. It offers total flexibility with instant access to funds at anytime without penalty. The variable interest rate on this account will at least match ECB + 3 percent until 19th February 2009. After that the rate will at least match ECB until 1st January 2010. A high return of five percent AER variable on lump sums up to €10,000 and 3.50 percent AER variable on all amounts from €10,001 to €100,000 with AIB’s Online Notice Deposit 7. This account offers customers easy, secure access online and is available through AIB Internet Banking. Customers can transfer money into the account at any time. Customers wishing to save or invest over the medium to long term (five years plus) can discuss the various equity based fund options with an adviser and avail of special offers. The range and breadth of products available means there is something for every type of income and lifestyle including saving for children or grandchildren with the Junior Saver account, Special Term Deposit accounts, Fixed Term Deposit accounts and equity based savings plans. Further information on all savings and investment products is available at any AIB branch nationwide.