It's pretty unusual for companies to make big, public U-turns.

More unusual still for them to happen within days of the original decision.

But that’s exactly what AIB has done today, bowing to growing unbearable pressure from customers, interest groups and politicians.

It is just three days since the bank announced it planned to axe cash and cheque services from 70 more of its 170 nationwide branches.

That’s on top of the 22 branches that have already lost the ability to deal in cash.

The move had been in planning for several years, it is understood.

Clearly though, AIB significantly underestimated what the public reaction would be.

Because not for some time has there been such a universal and furious response to a decision by a large Irish company to reduce its level of service.

In purely commercial terms, the plan was a sensible one.

According to AIB, there has been a "dramatic increase in the use of digital banking services and a decline in branch visits and cash usage."

It says that each day its systems have 2.9 million digital interactions with customers, compared with 35,000 customer branch visits.

The lender claims there has been a 36% decline in cash withdrawals from ATMs and a 50% fall in cheque usage over the past five years.

And it says it has also seen a fall of almost 50% in branch over-the-counter teller transactions, while mobile and online payments have increased by 85% in that same timeframe.

Some of those figures may have been distorted by the effects of the pandemic, which drove more people towards digital banking and away from cash.

But nonetheless, the trend and direction of travel is one way.

In such circumstances, it therefore seems to make financial sense on paper to reduce costs associated with cash and branches, by cutting services and nudging people further towards cashless payments, which can also be charged for.

Any gaps in service were to be filled in by the post office network, which was set to offer an enhanced range of cash services to AIB customers.

The problem for AIB though is that the mandate of a bank is not just about making money (though that is important) - it is also about serving customers and communities.

And community is something that AIB has been keen to highlight its credentials on in recent years.

CEO Colin Hunt has sought to underline the bank's roots in towns and villages around the country and the connection and commitment the bank has to its customers through its branches.

It has a community section on its website, it has a community fund and a community programme.

Yet in this decision to cut cash services, the bank appears to have perhaps lost that connection to its community roots.

The older or vulnerable people who have not yet made that transition to cashless payments and therefore need in-branch services.

The pubs and small businesses who need to lodge their takings during the day, or at night.

The local sports clubs and charities who want to put the coins and notes they raised from the latest fundraiser into their accounts.

The backlash from those in the communities that would be impacted – from businesses to farmers, and rural bodies to organisations representing older people – was therefore predictably strong.

To its credit, the bank didn’t dig in its heels and try to tough it out, as it might have.

Quite quickly it has put up its hands to say it now recognises "the customer and public unease that this has caused…" and reversed its decision.

In reality though, it was left with little choice once the Taoiseach came out and suggested the bank should reconsider its plan.

When the leader of the State, which owns 63.5% of the bank because it bailed it out of financial crisis a decade earlier, expressed reservations, it became time to think again.

It isn’t the first time something like this has happened though.

In 2017 Bank of Ireland took criticism for a similar plan to cut in-branch cash services in 100 branches and it later rowed back on it too.

It is worth considering though that four years later, in March of last year, Bank of Ireland announced it was closing 88 branches completely.

And while that decision caused some push back from customers and others at the time, it ultimately went ahead and those branches are now shut.

Might that have been prevented or delayed if Bank of Ireland had been able to proceed with its plan to cut cash services?

This time, AIB customers and community have won out.

But the victory won’t come without cost.

AIB’s financial bottom line will not be as strong, as it will have to continue paying for cash services which are being used less and less.

That’s not good for customers, or for the State as majority shareholder.

But perhaps more costly is the reputational hit to AIB.

Not only among customers, but also among potential institutional investors who are eyeing up the bank as the Government sells down the State's stake.

Will they want to put their money into a lender whose commercial decisions can be so easily blown off course by political opinion?

The same argument goes for international financial institutions who may be considering moving into the Irish market, just as two banks - Ulster Bank and KBC - depart, due in large part to the dysfunctional nature of that market.

Several questions also face the Government in the wake of the U-turn.

The Minister for Finance was, according to his junior minister, Sean Fleming, told about the plan by AIB shortly before it was announced. But why did he not know sooner? And why did he not shout stop when he did find out?

Where were the public interest directors on the AIB board? Did they know about the scheme, and if so, why did they not express concerns?

And ultimately, what is the State going to deem acceptable in the future when the large Irish banks seek to make more publicly unpalatable, but commercially sound decisions around strategy and transformation?

This AIB plan might be scuppered for now, but it has only delayed the inevitable. What will happen the next time a hard decision like this has to be taken that the Government doesn't like?

A question that hopefully will be addressed by the Government’s banking review, which has never seemed quite as important or as needed as it does now.