Contactless transactions jump 66% in first half of 2018

Figures show there were 158 million contactless payments valued at €1.9 billion

After being initially wary, Irish consumers have taken to using contactless payments in droves.

Figures from the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) show there were 158 million contactless payments valued at €1.9 billion in the first half of 2018, up 66 per cent year on year.

The figures don’t indicate if contactless payments have overtaken traditional chip and pin transactions as the dominant payment type here as in other countries.

Nonetheless yhey show debit cardholders made almost 35 contactless payments per card and spent more than €421 per card. Credit cardholders spent almost €89 on average per card in the same period.


Contactless payments include contactless payments with both physical card and mobile based payments, eclipsed the traditional chip and pin card transactions, which amounted to

Contactless cards were introduced several years ago and their increasing popularity suggests consumers have overcome their initial wariness of the new technology.

The BPFI monitor, which tracks key trends across a range of payment categories including digital banking, contactless payments, debit and credit cards and ATMs, shows digital banking transaction volumes, including online and mobile banking, grew by 18.4 per cent year-on-year to 46.8 million in the first six months of 2018.

Internet banking usage was highest among 30-44 year olds (83 per cent). At a European level Internet banking usage in Ireland was on a par with France, Switzerland and the UK but behind Scandinavian and Benelux countries, the federation said.

The figures showed, however, that despite the surge in card payments, cash demand remained strong with the value of cash withdrawn at ATMs on Irish debit cards rising to €9.4 billion, up 0.7 per cent.

ECB figures show that Irish cardholders were the third highest users of ATM cash withdrawals in the EU in 2017 after Austria and Hungary.

Cheque usage meanwhile continued to fall in early 2018, with volumes falling by 10.3 per cent. Large numbers of Irish Water refund cheques were issued ilate last year so the second half of 2018 should see a further significant drop in volumes, it said.

Richard Walsh, the BPFI's head of digital and payments strategy, said: "Payment card usage has exploded in recent years thanks mainly to the rollout of contactless payment cards and smartphone-based mobile wallets."

“This is clearly demonstrated when you consider that contactless payments accounted for 63 million of the 83 million additional card payments in the first half of this year which is considerable.”

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times