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BPFI Payments Monitor – Q1 2021

320 million card payments made in Q1 2021 as ATM withdrawals fall by 44% and cheque usage drops by 26%

26th May 2021 – Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) has today published the latest figures from its BPFI Payments Monitor for Q1 2021which shows electronic payments continued to grow strongly in the first three months of the year with a sharp decline in both ATM withdrawal and cheque volumes.

Speaking on the latest trends, Brian Hayes, Chief Executive, BPFI said: “The latest trends indicate that consumers and businesses continue to move away from cash and paper-based payments. Over the first three months of the year, the Central Bank of Ireland reports some 320 million card payments were made. BPFI data shows that in-store contactless payments, which includes payments with cards as well as mobile wallets such as Apple Pay or Google Pay, made up 47% of those payments. And over the course of the quarter the volumes of contactless payment volumes rose by 12.9% to almost 149 million.”

“This is in stark contrast to cash and paper-based payments with the growth in contactless largely being driven by consumers moving away from cash payments at the point of sale. Our report today shows both the volume and value of ATM cash withdrawals down by 44.3% and 35.7%, respectively, compared with Q1 2020. Cheque usage also saw a sharp decline with volumes falling by 26.3% year on year to 4.9 million. This was the second lowest quarterly volume recorded after 4.8 million in Q2 2020.”

Mr Hayes continued: “And while the payment card is by far the most frequently used payment instruments in Ireland today’s report also shows that digital banking transfer (credit transfers made via personal online or mobile banking) volumes are also up, growing by 9.3% year on year to 30.3 million payments. Direct debit usage meanwhile declined slightly which can be attributed to the Covid-19 restrictions.”

“It is notable that growth in electronic payments over the quarter were substantial despite the Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions which were in place. With the reopening of the county now underway and likely to gather pace in the weeks and months ahead, we anticipate that the upward trends in electronic payments will continue into the future with an ongoing decline in cash and paper based methods” Mr Hayes concluded.

Data Series

All payments monitor data from January 2016 onwards is available in Microsoft Excel format (*.xls) in the BPFI Payments Monitor report data series. The BPFI Payments Monitor report data series since January 2016 is available to download here.


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 Q1 2021 is available for download below in PDF format.