Online and mobile banking payments continued to surge in 2021 as card spending also reached new heights but cheques hit new low

  • Online/mobile banking volumes grew by 10.4% in 2021, increasing by almost 85% in the last five years
  • Value of contactless payments rises by 48.3% to €13.6 billion with contactless accounting for more than half (52%) of all card payments in 2021
  • 36% of in-store spending is now accounted for by contactless payments including mobile wallets

Thursday 17th February 2022 – Online and mobile banking continued to surge ahead in 2021 with volumes increasing by almost 85% over the last five years according to the latest Payments Monitor Q4 2021 from Banking & Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI). The report also shows total card spending reached new heights in 2021 as consumers and businesses reduced their use of cash and increased their online spend and contactless payments in stores.

As consumers continued to reduce their reliance on cash and cheques, online and mobile banking (digital banking) payment volumes grew by 10.4% to 131 million payments in 2021. This was almost 85% more than in 2016, when only 71 million digital banking payments were made.

The report show that consumers are making greater use of electronic channels in place of paper-based payments in particular. Cheques reached a new low in 2021 at only 20 million payments, down 14.7% on 2020 and less than half the volume in 2017. Direct debits, which are mainly used for bill payments, grew by 0.7% to 139 million in 2021.

Contactless payments

The Monitor, which also captures contactless data, shows contactless payments accounted for more than half (52%) of all card payments in 2021, up from 25% in 2017. In value terms, about 53% of card spending was in stores, down from 61% in 2019, while some 36% of in-store spending was contactless which includes payments with cards as well mobile wallets such as Apple Pay or Google Pay, up from 17% in 2019.

The report also shows the volume and value of contactless payments rose by 36.5% and 48.3%, respectively, year on year in 2021 to 834 million payments worth €13.6 billion. This was more than double the value in 2019. In December 2021 there were 2.99 million contactless payments valued at €53.8 million per day, up from 2.1 million payments valued at €36.5 million a year earlier.

In total almost €70.7 billion was spent on cards in 2021, up from about €57.2 billion, in 2019, according to Central Bank of Ireland data. By contrast, cash withdrawn at ATMs fell from a peak of €19.9 billion in 2018 to €12.7 billion in 2021.

Commenting on the latest BPFI report, Brian Hayes, Chief Executive, BPFI said: “Our latest payments figures which allow us to assess 2021 as a whole, very clearly demonstrate the continued momentum driving the use of digital banking as well as contactless payments and card spend more generally. In just five years we have seen an unprecedented jump of 85% in online and mobile banking payments as consumers continue to adopt to digital channels and move away from paper-based payments. Similarly, as the move away from cash continues and ATM usage falls, consumers are increasingly choosing instead to spend online or to use contactless cards when shopping in store. The downward decline of cheques continues, reaching a new low of 20 million payments last year, just 15% of the total volume of digital payments. With the majority of Covid-19 restrictions now removed we expect these changes in consumer behaviour, that were accelerated during the pandemic, will likely remain and drive a long-lasting shift in the use of digital channels and electronic payments.”

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.


Note: 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 100 member institutions and associates, including licensed domestic and foreign banks and institutions operating in the financial marketplace here.

Contact: Jillian Heffernan, Head of Communications, 087 9016880

The BPFI Payments Monitor - Q4 2021 is available for download below in PDF format.