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BPFI Payments Monitor – Contactless Update January 2021

Digital banking payments jumped by two-thirds in the past four years while cheque usage halved in the same period – BPFI Payments Monitor

Contactless payments drove an 80% increase in card payments volumes since 2016

15th March 2021 – Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) has today published the latest figures from its BPFI Payments Monitor for Q4 2020 showing that digital banking payments (online/mobile banking) jumped by 67% between 2016 and 2020 with cheque usage halving in that same four-year period.

Commenting on the trends evident from these latest sets of figures, Brian Hayes, Chief Executive, BPFI said: “Electronic payments have soared in recent years as consumers and businesses continue to move further away from cash and paper-based payments, a trend that has undoubtedly been accelerated by changing consumer demands and behaviour since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic. The digital banking revolution is well and truly underway with figures continuing to show a surge in demand for digital payments and transactions.”

“This rapid growth in electronic payments contrasts with the decline in cheques usage with volumes halving between 2016 and 2020 to about 23 million. Cheque usage fell to only 4.8 million in Q2 2020, its lowest quarterly level since BPFI started collecting data in 2008.”

“As consumers continue to seek out innovative solutions combining speed, reliability and customer choice we have seen a growth in online and mobile banking of 67% to about 118 million payments in the last four years. Changing consumer preferences are also evident across other  types of payments. The increasing appeal and surge in demand for contactless payments and the move away from cash, has had a major impact in the usage of cards, as the fast growing adoption of contactless drove an 80% increase in card payments. Additionally, we can see direct debits grew by 25% to 138 million, with many consumers and businesses relying on direct debits for regular bill payments.  In fact, almost half (49%) of Irish adults who paid energy bills used direct debits in April 2020.”

Contactless Payments

In addition, BFPI also published the latest contactless payment figures for January 2021 showing some 1.4 million contactless payments were made per day in January 2021 valued at €21.7 million.

Outlining the key points from this report Mr Hayes continued: “January saw a total of 42.3 million contactless payments made over the month of January worth over €674 million. And while these are substantial numbers, we can see the closure of non-essential retail clearly taking effect with daily payments falling to their lowest levels since May 2020.”

“In volume terms, contactless payments were down 3.4% year on year during the month of January however their value rose by 28.3% over the same period as consumers benefitted from the higher transaction limit of €50 that was introduced last year. And despite the somewhat lower usage figures during January contactless accounted for almost half (45%) of the total number of card payments in January, up 42% from a year earlier.”

“With the re-introduction of level 5 restrictions after Christmas the fall-off in volumes we have seen in January are to be expected. The fact remains however that contactless payments remain hugely popular, a trend we believe will remain unchanged as we move forward into the year ahead,” Mr Hayes concluded.

Data Series

The BPFI Contactless quarterly report data series since 2016 and contactless monthly for 2020 is available to download here in excel format.


Contact: Jillian Heffernan, Head of Communications, 087 9016880 or

Notes: Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) represents the banking, payments and fintech sector in Ireland.  Together with its affiliates, the Federation of International Banks in Ireland, and the Fintech & Payments Association of Ireland, BPFI has some 100 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.

The BPFI Payments Monitor Contactless Update January 2021 web_final is available for download below in PDF format.