Cheques are under assault in one of their last strongholds,
Ireland. Playing a key role in the offensive is internet banking,
which a joint study by the Irish Payment Services Organisation
(IPSO) and the Irish Banking Federation (IBF) reveals is enjoying
rapid uptake by consumers.
At a steady pace of some 100,000 customers
registering each quarter to bank online, the total number of online
users increased from 1.5 million in the first quarter of 2007 to
2.2 million at the end of 2008.
This represented an increase of almost 50
percent over the period and resulted in about two-thirds of
Ireland’s adult population becoming online bankers.
Usage of online banking has increased at an
even faster pace with the number of online payments rising by 63
percent between the first quarter of 2007 and the last quarter of
2008 to 8.3 million, or almost 91,000 per day. The number of times
customers accessed their account balances online rose 30.7 percent
between 2007 and 2008 to 123 million.
Indicative of internet banking’s impact on
cheque-use in Ireland, European Central Bank data show the share of
cheques in total non-cash payments in value terms fell from 82
percent in 2006 to 78.3 percent in 2007 after rising from 68.6
percent over the previous five years.
Though data for 2008 has yet to be released
the downward trend in cheque-use appears likely to have
“Online banking is facilitating the migration
from cheques and other paper-based payment methods to electronic
payments,” said Una Dillon, IPSO’s head of card services and
“The move to electronic payments is vital in
ensuring Ireland’s competitiveness and efficiency within the wider
European market and is a key objective of the National Payments
Programme which is supported by the Department of Finance.”
Despite welcoming progress the IBF’s CEO Pat
Farrell believes scope exists for considerable growth in Irish
“Comparative figures for 2007 show that the
average user here made 14 percent more online payments and 20
percent more online enquiries than his or her UK counterpart,” said
Farrell. “ However, in a leading online adopter like Norway the
average customer made around three times more payments online [than
in Ireland] – indicating that there is considerable scope for