National Payments Plan
The National Payments Plan aims to increase electronic forms of payment such as debit cards and electronic banking in Ireland. It estimates that this will save the Irish economy €1 billion annually.
Ireland has the second highest usage of cheques among major European countries, the highest ATM withdrawal per capita and pays out half of all social welfare payments in cash. Ireland’s existing payment systems infrastructure could be made more efficient by making more use of electronic payments such as debit cards and electronic banking. A more modern payment system would also reduce the size of the shadow economy and improve cash security
The National Payments Plan Steering Committee oversaw the development of the plan. The Committee consisted of representatives of consumers, business, Government, banks and the Central Bank. The plan was launched in April 2013. Monitoring and implementation of the plan will continue until the end of 2014.
The plan sets out a vision which states that:
- Electronic forms of payment will be universally accepted and will be the preferred payment choice for many
- Irish consumers will have access to the most innovative payment methods
- Cash and cheques will remain available to those who wish to use them and consumers will not be obliged to discontinue using them
- No section of Irish society will be financially excluded regarding payments
The plan recommends a number of initiatives which include:
- Phasing out of cheques: From 19 September 2014 (e-Day) Government departments, local authorities and state agencies will no longer use cheques in their dealings with businesses.
- New ways to pay: Make new technologies, such as mobile payments and contactless cards, generally available in Ireland. The plan aims to double the number of e-payments per capita by 2015.
- Social welfare payments: Modernise how social welfare payments are paid (half of all payments are cash-based)
- Introduce a standard bank account: This initiative aims to reduce the number of people in Ireland who do not have a current account (17% compared to a European average of 2%), and help these people to manage their finances. You can read more about standard bank accounts.
- Review the national cash cycle: The national cash cycle will be reviewed in full to identify cost savings, and will include a pilot to reduce use of 1c and 2c coins (a rounding trial).
- €10s in ATMs: Increase the dispensing of €10 notes in ATMs;
- Manage fees for payments: The fees consumers and merchants pay for payments should be set to incentivise them to use the most efficient forms of payment.
- Migrate to SEPA by February 2014: Read more about the Single European Payments Area (SEPA).
- Change payment habits: A broad education and support campaign is needed to drive a change in payment habits among many consumers and business.