CONSUMERS are turning their backs on the use of cash and cheques and increasingly making payments with plastic.
Irish people have been traditionally among the most enthusiastic users of cheques and cash, but new figures show that is changing rapidly.
And huge chunks of spending are now being made on three different types of card -- debit, credit and prepaid.
Irish consumers spent €13bn on Visa credit and debit cards last year, new figures show. This was up from €8.8bn in 2010, a rise of 48pc.
This means that €1 in every €8 of consumer spending in Ireland is now on a Visa credit or debit card.
A Visa debit card works just like a Laser card in that you can only spend money you have in your bank account.
Visa Europe said yesterday there are about 3.4 million of their various cards currently in use in this country, a rise of 28pc in a year.
The company, which is owned by banks in Europe, expects to see consumers begin to be able to use new 'contactless' cards from this year.
Bank of Ireland is replacing its old Laser debit cards with new Visa debit cards, with the new cards to be capable of being used to make small purchases in shops by just tapping the card on a payment terminal.
The contactless technology will allow customers to purchase items of €15 or under in less than a second by simply waving their card in front of the card terminal to make payment.
The overall number of transactions was up by 76pc in total, with 157.9 million transactions made over the 365 days of 2011.
The number of Visa-branded cards in circulation here is likely to increase further in the coming years, as AIB is also set to roll out Visa debit cards to current account customers.
Ulster Bank and Permanent TSB have already replaced Laser cards with Visa debit.