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Record-breaking €1 billion spent through contactless payments in December

Around 2.1 million people used contactless payments each day last month.

Image: Shutterstock/Jacob Lund

MORE THAN ONE billion euro was spent by consumers using contactless payments in Ireland in December – the highest monthly total ever recorded.

Data published today by the Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) shows that the total spent by Irish consumers via contactless payments broke the ten-figure mark for the first time last month.

An average of €36.5 million was spent via contactless payments in Ireland every day during December, when 2.1 million people per day used contactless payments – overtaking the previous peak of 2.01 million people per day in September.

Many people switched to using contactless payments last year or increased how often they use them as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the government raised the maximum amount that a person could spend via a contactless payment from €30 to €50.

The volume and value of contactless payments in the last quarter of 2020 rose by 23.7% compared with the three months previously, and 63.4% year-on-year to €2.8 billion.

That came despite a drop in the number of contactless payments in Ireland in November, due in part to the introduction of Level 5 restrictions in late October.

BPFI Chief executive Brian Hayes said December’s record-breaking figures showed how Covid-19 has reshaped payment methods in Ireland.

“As well as seeing the monthly spending value top €1 billion for the first time, we have also seen increases in both the volumes and value of contactless transactions on a daily basis,” he explained.

“These figures clearly demonstrate the growing demand for contactless payments, allowing consumers to conduct fast, simple and secure transactions during the current pandemic.”

The move to contactless payments, which incur less fees for consumers, has led four Irish retail banks — Bank of Ireland, AIB, Permanent TSB and KBC — to plan a merger in the form of a new payments app to rival Revolut and N26.

Users have flocked to Revolut and N26 in recent years, largely due to how easy they are to use and the fact that they don’t involve processing fees for payments, unlike more traditional banks.

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However, despite plans by the four banks to create a new app, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission last week rejected a merger notification submitted by them to do so.

Financial advisor Eoin McGee has said that Irish banks have had “a very cushy position” until companies like Revolut began to operate in Ireland.

“They had to do something because their lunch is being eaten,” he said. “I think the banks are realising that; they’re just taking their time about it.”

Contains reporting by Ian Curran.

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