Rapid rise in online shopping and card use

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Consumers are rapidly moving to card payments instead of cash, while there has also been a significant increase in online shopping in the past year, according to Central Bank figures.

Card payments saw a 9% increase to €17.2bn in the first three months of 2019 compared to the same period last year.

Figures from the regulator showed consumers were preferring to use their own money rather adding to their debts, with debit card transactions more than five times the value of credit card spending from January to March.

The number of so-called "point of sale" transactions, such as electronic purchases with a bank card at a shop register, was 244 million in the first quarter, with an average spend of €40.62 per transaction.

The number of transactions with credit cards totalled 34 million, with an average spend of €80.12 per transaction, the Central Bank said.

The total number of active debit and credit cards was just over six million at the end of March, according to the regulator.

Shop purchases accounted for almost half of all new debit card spending, or more than double the expenditure on services, the report found.

Debit card point of sale spending rose by 19% year-on-year in March to €3.4bn, with spending in shops increasing 18% to €259m, and spending on services by 20% to €130m.

Credit card spending did increase in March but at a slower pace, the figures showed. It increased by 10% in shops and 11% in services.

Online shopping saw a marked increase in the past year, gathering pace in March, the Central Bank said.

Total e-commerce spending was €1.7bn in March, with €1.2bn and €451m in debit card and credit card transactions respectively.

Yearly, e-commerce spend in the first quarter rose by 15%, with March spending 19% higher than the same month in 2018.

E-commerce now accounts for 24% of all debit card expenditure and 50% of credit card spending, the regulator said.

Spending by Irish tourists abroad also rose year-on-year.

Total card spend, including ATM transactions, outside the country averaged €532m over the three months to the end of March, an increase of 7% on the same period in 2018.

Debit card spending abroad came to €1.1bn in the first quarter, an increase of 6% from a year ago.

Credit card spend abroad rose by 10% year-on-year to €465m.

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