The Government is slapping a 12c charge on all ATM transactions, capped at €2.50, in an attempt to nudge the country towards a cashless society.
We are among the biggest users of cash and cheques in Europe and have shown a reluctance to move over to electronic payments.
Efforts to switch habits have been hampered by the state itself being one of the biggest users of cheques until recently and many shops still not accepting card payments.
In a bold bid to break with tradition, the Government will start hitting people in their wallets if they fill it with cash.
However the charge will be capped at €2.50 or €5, depending on the type of card being used, which should mean no additional cost to consumers.
Measures introduced in the latest Budget include the abolition of a €5 stamp duty tax on all debit and ATM cards.
The tax will be replaced instead with a 12c levy for every time someone uses a cash machine.
The charge comes into effect on January 1. There will be no Government charges for debit card transactions.
On the other side of the counter, so-called interchange fees paid by the shop’s bank to the customer’s bank for every plastic transaction are being slashed.
The “excessive fees” for accepting electronic payments will be halved for debit cards on December 9, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said in his Budget speech.
A new EU regulation is already halving interchange charges on credit cards.
The Government claims the measures will save retailers €36m a year.
Mr Noonan warned the changes will be “monitored closely” to make sure savings are passed on to customers.
“Together with the reduction in bank fees, retailers should now bring an end to practices such as requiring a minimum payment for card use,” he added.
In another move, the purchase limit for contactless payment cards is being doubled to €30 from the end of the month.
Ireland’s Central Bank believes a major shift towards payments by debit cards, smartphones and online transfers could save the economy one billion euro a year.
While Ireland lags behind in the move to electronic transactions, the Danish government earlier this year unveiled plans to free clothing retailers, petrol stations and restaurants from being legally bound to accept cash.
Nearly a third of Danes use a smartphone application for transferring money to other phones and shops.
Sweden, Denmark and Finland lead the European Union in credit card payments.