Why we check on our bank every day
CASH-strapped consumers are checking their bank accounts once a day by computer, in what experts say is a sign we're watching every cent.
A survey seen by the Irish Independent shows that almost one-quarter of us look at our accounts on a computer or a smartphone at least once a day.
Around 3m consumers in the Republic now use online banking facilities, according to a survey by Irish-based market research firm Mintel.
And large numbers of people say they use an ATM at least once a week.
This implies that consumers are taking small amounts of money out of their accounts regularly.
However, experts said heavy usage of ATMs was likely to change as most banks have now started charging between 20c and 28c per withdrawal unless customers meet strict conditions for free banking.
Under changes to the Bank of Ireland fee structure, from the middle of November, free banking will only be available to customers who leave €3,000 permanently in their current account. In addition, Bank of Ireland customers are set to lose the option of paying their credit card bills with cash.
The bank is also slashing services at 40 branches, instead of closing them.
AIB requires customers to keep at least €2,500 in their current account to avoid having to pay maintenance and transaction fees on the likes of ATM withdrawals.
The National Consumer Agency has advised consumers to use online banking rather than branch banking or ATMs as a way of keeping transaction costs down.
Brian O'Connor, of Mintel, said: "Irish consumers are using online banking facilities to keep a tighter control of their money through regular balance checks, as well as monitoring transactions."
Balance enquiries are the biggest reason people log in to their accounts while on a PC, laptop or a smartphone.
Checking transactions on a bank statement is another major reason consumers use electronic banking.
Transferring money and arranging standing orders and direct debits are other reasons cited by Mintel for the growing popularity of online banking.
Most people feel that the internet has made managing their finances easier, while three out of four people save time by doing their banking on a PC or a smartphone rather than going into a branch.