ATM use: Republic tops the list

IRISH consumers withdraw more money from cash-machines than anyone else in Europe — taking out almost €6,000 a year each, figures have revealed.

Last year, the average man and woman withdrew €5,923 each at ATMs in contrast to the frugal Danes, who withdrew just €513.

The popularity of cash withdrawals has puzzled Ireland’s bankers, who say more consumers than ever have Laser debit cards allowing them to pay electronically instead of with cash.

“Last year we had a 56% increase in the number of Laser cards and the number issued now stands at 2.6 million,” said Úna Dillon, of the Irish Payment Services Organisation (IPSO). “Yet our cash withdrawals are double the European average.”

IPSO reckons the cost to the country of processing the cash, along with the country’s large volume of cheques, is €1.4 billion, a sum which is reflected in higher prices in the shops.

Now IPSO plans to ramp up marketing campaigns to get more people to pay for goods and services by using debit cards instead of cash.

Ireland’s love affair with cash and the hand-written cheque was unveiled in the IPSO annual report for 2007, released yesterday.

Last year, Irish consumers withdrew €5,923 from the country’s 3,375 ATMs and issued 29 cheques each, against the European Union average of €2,746 per person and 15 cheques a head.

“Cash remains very popular but it is also expensive to process and this cost is ultimately borne by the consumer in the form of higher consumer prices,” the IPSO report said.

The second highest users of cash machines were the Germans, who withdrew €4,647 each from ATMs.

Consumers in Britain and the North were in third place, withdrawing an average of €4,356 last year.

The lowest were the Danes at €513 each, as Denmark, like other EU countries, is getting more of its consumers to pay for goods and services using debit or credit card or by paying bills through direct debit.

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