The Irish are moving away from cash towards electronic payment methods such as card and online transactions but still lag behind their European counterparts, according to the Irish Payment Services Organisation (Ipso).
The total spend on cards in Ireland last year was EUR22.8 billion, exceeding for the first time the value of ATM withdrawals, at EUR22.3 billion.
The number of people using Internet banking services has also risen sharply over the last few years, with customers making 10.7 million online payments in the first quarter of 2011, a 17% increase on the same period the previous year.
However, the Irish still have a stronger attachment to cash than most European countries, using ATMs more than any other EU member, making an average of 40 withdrawals, totalling almost EUR5000 per capita, in 2010.
The value of all non-cash transactions totalled 36% in 2010, in stark contrast to the EU average of 96%, where consumers have for many years been using e-payments.
Ipso claims that EUR1 billion could be saved a year by switching to electronic and card payments. This prospect prompted the Irish government last year to create a high level group to establish a National Payments Implementation Plan designed to wean the country off its dependence on paper-based cash and cheques.
Pat McLoughlin, CEO, IPSO, says: "It is essential that Irish consumers continue to take the lead from their European counterparts in switching to more efficient payment methods as this will positively impact on Ireland's economic competitiveness."