We prefer cash despite banks' bid to get us to use new cards
BANKS face an uphill struggle to get people to embrace new electronic payments.
Consumers are sceptical about the merits of new contactless debit cards that will allow them to pay for items that cost up to €15 by waving their card in front of a reader in a shop.
Instead, new research shows that Irish people still prefer using cash and cheques or visiting a bank branch.
Banks, including AIB and Bank of Ireland, are replacing customers' Laser cards with new Visa contactless debit cards. These allow shoppers to make purchases of €15 or less in under a second by holding their card over a terminal without entering a personal identification number (PIN).
Contactless cards can now be used in McDonalds, Arnotts, Boots, Insomnia, Centra, Spar, EuroSpar and Mace.
With a debit card, you can only make purchases if you have money in your bank account.
AIB and Bank of Ireland are to waive all charges for using the new contactless cards for a few months in the hope that people get hooked on them.
However, the Belfast-based research firm Mintel has found that consumers are not convinced about contactless payments technology.
Only one in five consumers thinks the new contactless cards will be convenient.
"Consumers remain to be convinced about this technology," according to the report, entitled 'Online and Mobile Banking Ireland'.
Banks are desperate to get people to switch from using cash and cheques and going into branches and instead conduct their day-to-day banking online and by using debit and credit cards.
But the research found that branches and ATMs were the most widely used way that consumers accessed their current accounts. Nine out of 10 consumers use a branch or an ATM to get cash and conduct their banking business.
AIB, Bank of Ireland, Danske Bank and Permanent TSB all closed branches last year. Ulster Bank is expected to close at least 40 branches this year.
Charges for online banking are cheaper than for using a branch as banks bid to stop customers coming into their premises.
Despite this, six out of 10 consumers prefer to pay cash for goods and services, Mintel said.
And mobile banking has yet to catch on among consumers.
Visa Europe, which provides the infrastructure to banks for debit and credit card payments, said its research had shown that Irish consumers were Europe's highest users of cash that they had taken out of an ATM.
Consumers carry €78m in cash every day, which works out at €23 a day per person. This is double the EU average.