Contactless payments drive growth in debit card spending

Figures show switch from cash to contactless as Irish consumers reach for the cards

Contactless payments are likely to be behind a growth in debit-card spending, new figures from the Central Bank show.

According to the figures, debit-card point-of-sale spending in March increased 14 per cent to €2.7 billion on the same month in 2016, probably driven by an increase in contactless payments. In total, debit cards accounted for transactions worth €4.3 billion in March, with some €1.6 billion withdrawn from ATMs. Point-of-sale spending on credit cards declined to €871 million in the month.

The figures also show that people are continuing to shop more online, although there was a drop-off from the peak of €918 million reached in January – probably down to January sale shopping – to €857 million. Online shopping with a credit card continues to rise, however, up 11 per cent over the past year to stand at €407 million at end of March.

People are also using debit cards more frequently abroad. Figures show that total debit card expenditure outside Ireland amounted to €858 million in the first three months of the year, an increase of 16 per cent on the first quarter of 2016. Credit-card spending fell, however, down 6 per cent.


Irish consumers still have hefty credit-card debt, with about €1.2 billion of outstanding credit-card balances liable for interest in March 2017. Just 8 per cent of these cards have exceeded their credit limit, while 37 per cent have balances of 76-100 per cent of their credit limit. These proportions have remained unchanged over the past year.

Fiona Reddan

Fiona Reddan

Fiona Reddan is a writer specialising in personal finance and is the Home & Design Editor of The Irish Times