Irish still prefer to pay with cash, says Visa survey

Wed, Aug 8, 2007, 01:00

Irish people still love to "flash the cash" in spite of continuing growth in the popularity of credit and debit cards, according to a new survey.

The Irish use cash twice as much as our European neighbours with more than €200 million resting in our pockets on a typical day, the survey by Visa Europe says.

Men carry 50 per cent more cash than women and people from Connacht are the biggest carriers of cash in the State, the survey of 500 adults found.

Differences in cash-carrying habits within Ireland and between Ireland and other EU countries are due to the lower penetration of credit and debit cards in the Republic and a lack of access to ATMs in rural areas, Visa claims.

"The use of cash as a payment method in Ireland is slowly declining due to the rise in the number of payment options available today, but it is clear that cash still plays a vital role," said Fiona Wilkinson of Visa. "We will see a move away from cash over the next few years as new technology is introduced."

The average amount of money carried by adults is €68; for men, this figure is €80 and for women, €54. People from Connacht carry an average of €114 in their pockets, compared with just €76 for people in Ulster. Dubliners carry €85 on average, people from Munster €92 and the rest of Leinster €109. The generation most attached to cash is the 45-54 age group, which carries €99 on average, more than that held by 16-24-year-olds.

The survey comes as Minister for Enterprise and Employment Micheál Martin announced his intention to ban retailers from imposing surcharges on payments made by credit card later this year. Mr Martin is holding a one-month consultation process before introducing the change.

According to the Irish Payment Services Organisation, one-quarter of Irish consumers use cash for all their transactions and 70 per cent of all payments under €100 are made in cash. Ireland is one of only three euro-zone countries still using cheques to any significant extent; last year, 130 million cheques were written in Ireland.

While almost 90 per cent of people operate a bank account, just 66 per cent own a credit or debit card.