Customers withdrawing €3bn less in cash from ATMs
The amount of cash withdrawn from hole in the wall machines last year fell by €3bn, it has been revealed.
The Irish Payment Services Organisation (Ipso) said €22.3bn was taken from ATMs last year with Ireland still one of the biggest users of cash in the EU.
In its latest survey of payment methods, the group found consumers changing habits by switching to debit cards from cash and making more low-cost, convenient electronic payments through online banking channels.
IPSO chief executive Pat McLoughlin said the survey marks a new era in consumer habits.
"The fact that there is a clear trend towards greater usage of debit cards is a sign that Ireland is embracing a new era in consumer transactions and it will come as a boost to retailers and businesses across the country as the speed and efficiency of payments improves," he said.
"It is essential that Irish consumers continue to take the lead from their European counterparts in switching to more efficient payment methods as this will positively impact on Ireland's economic competitiveness."
Despite the changing trends, consumers in Ireland are more likely to use ATMs than in any other EU country.
Ipso said bank and building society customers made an average of 40 withdrawals in 2010, totalling almost €5,000.
Ipso said the total spend on electronic payments using cards in Ireland last year was €22.8bn - for the first time exceeding the value of ATM withdrawals.
In Ireland the value of non-cash transactions is 36pc of the total compared to 96pc for an EU average.
Ipso also noted that more than 2.8 million customers are now registered for online banking in Ireland.
Mr McLaughlin said Government figures estimate that savings of €1bn could be made for the Irish economy if all bills were paid for electronically.
He said the move from ATMs and cash to card payments was a combination of two factors.
"There's no doubt about that. It's not simply a reduction in cash alone from ATMs as a result of a downturn on the economic front but, given that there is a move across to debit cards and online payments, we're safe to assume that there has been a change in people's behaviour," he said.
But Mr McLaughlin said there is still a cultural issue which has to be addressed in connection with card payments.