According to statistics released by the Irish Payments Services Organisation (IPSO), consumers have radically changed how they make payments over the course of the past decade.
Since 2005, debit card usage more than quadrupled while the use of cheques declined for an eighth consecutive year.
Fewer than 70 million cheques were used in Ireland in 2013, close to half the 132 million cheques processed in 2005.
Although Ireland remains one of the highest users of cash in the EU — making an average of almost €4,500 in cash withdrawals per capita last year (the second highest in the EU) — the volume of cash obtained from ATMs dropped by €5.3 billion, from €28.7bn in 2008 to €20.4bn in 2013.
Debit cards continued to be the most popular method of payment for Irish people, with a 10% growth to 341 million purchases and a 14% rise in the value of debit card sales to €17.6bn last year — up from 309 million and €15.4bn respectively in 2012.
In contrast, credit cards saw a decline of just under 5% in 2013, continuing a trend that can be seen in many countries arising from a growing preference for debit cards.
The total spend on payment cards in Ireland last year was €28bn, 35% higher than the €20.4bn withdrawn from ATMs.
Direct debits and credit transfers also increased last year with a record 140 million electronic credits made, worth €180bn and 109 million electronic debits, valued at €96billion.
Chief executive of the Irish Banking Federation and the IPSO, Noel Brett said the figures were a sign Ireland was embracing a “new era in payments”.
“The fact there is a clear trend towards greater usage of debit cards as well as a steady decline in cheques is a sign that Ireland is embracing a new era in payments and it will further benefit customers, retailers and businesses across the country as the speed and efficiency of payments further improve,” he said.
Mr Brett said the “e-Day” initiative will see the end of cheque usage between the public sector and businesses from September 19.
“This should encourage SMEs to migrate away from cheque usage and help boost Ireland’s competitiveness as SMEs are currently issuers or receivers of more than 60% of all cheques in Ireland,” he said.