The Irish payment landscape: a digital transformation

The Irish payment landscape: a digital transformation

20 September 22

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The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be attributed to the European Payments Council.

We continue our series of European payment landscapes with the profile of Ireland, and we interviewed Gillian Byrne Head of Payments, at Banking & Payments Federation Ireland to know more about payments in her country. In addition, our infographic summarises all you need to know about Ireland’s landscape.

What are the main characteristics of the Irish payment landscape and its recent evolution?

The Irish banking landscape has evolved dramatically over the past number of years. The BPFI along with Ernst & Young (E&Y) published a report last year (here) on ‘The Future of Retail Banks in Ireland’, which recognised disruptions to the traditional retail banking model resulting from rapid technological advances; swiftly changing customer preferences; increased competition from new technology based entrants and extensive regulatory and compliance obligations. At the same time, Ireland is also managing the transition of two significant retail banking players who are planning to exit the Irish market, adding to the complexity of the Irish banking market.

Consumer behaviour for Ireland’s population of just under five million citizens has shifted towards more accessible, frictionless, convenient and faster digital payment methods. Surveys show that Irish consumers are enthusiastic adopters of new technologies when presented with the opportunity of new services. We have some of the fastest consumer adoption rates of contactless and mobile payments, mobile banking, and adoption of online commerce by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The latest BPFI Payments Monitor shows the continued growth in digital payments (here).

New players offering digital only services are increasing their market share in Ireland by targeting segments of the traditional banking market. Many customers in Ireland are shopping across the financial services landscape and are becoming more comfortable using multiple providers.

Cheque volumes are continuing to fall with volumes nearly halved since 2018. Over the counter transactions saw a decrease of over forty-five percent in three years, while we saw a growth in digital payments of over sixty-five percent in the same period. The same trend was seen with our contactless payment volumes which rose almost thirty five percent year on year with the value of contactless rising more than forty percent year on year. We also saw a new record of monthly contactless volumes in May 2022 with 93.7 million transactions.

Can you tell us more about the new mobile payment service coming to the Irish market soon?

Synch Payments is a fintech with the aim of transforming digital payments from - and to - consumers and businesses in Ireland through the introduction of a new mobile phone-based payments application. This solution will allow customers make instant, Account to Account based payments. Synch has been established as an independent entity with its own executive management team and it is open to all eligible banks and payment providers.

This idea of industry collaboration followed the success of many European and worldwide industry initiatives offering a similar instant mobile payment solution and will position Ireland well for interoperability with future initiatives in the EU in this space. I understand implementation plans for a launch of the Synch service are advanced and they have also launched a website (here).


At the end of 2019, the first Irish payment service provider (PSP) adhered to the SEPA Instant Credit Transfer (SCT Inst) scheme. What is the forecast for the development of instant payments and SCT Inst adherence in Ireland?

Ireland is seeing a trend of more new payment players entering the market, who are opting and availing of the SCT Inst scheme from the outset. However, the key driver for the SCT Inst adherence rate in Ireland will be when the retail banks implement SCT Instant.  

This will be a significant undertaking for the traditional retail banks due to the complexity and scale of the development and the whole Irish industry will be keeping close to any updates on the likely mandating of SCT Inst from the European Commission (EC).

The new Synch service will be SCT Inst ready and will be able to switch over to the new rails as each bank adheres to the scheme.

How do you see the Irish payment landscape developing over the coming five years?

I see consumer behavioural preferences for digital payment methods, which the pandemic massively accelerated, continuing and there will be a further demand for more frictionless, instant and personalised payment services as they are now familiar with this method of payment and their expectations grow. Although the shift in consumer behaviour has reduced the volumes of paper-based payments such as cheques and cash, I see the choice always remaining with the consumer. 

The number of PSPs in the market will continue to grow and we will see further innovation using Open Banking as well as progression on CBDC’s (Central Bank Digital Currencies) allowing consumers and businesses alike to reduce the risk using digital currency.

Banks and PSPs will continue to increase their investment in resilience, cybersecurity and fraud prevention given the critical role digital payments play in our economy and the increased efforts by fraudsters who are becoming more and more sophisticated. There will be further focus on interoperability, as we in the EU in particular look to standardise payment processing – this will result in faster and more cost-efficient payments for consumers.

Infographic: The Irish payments landscape (September 2022)
(Click to enlarge and download)


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