A comprehensive overview of the cards, payments and consumer banking market in Ireland.
Demographics and the economy
Ireland cards market
Key retail banks and issuers
Acquiring and processing
Regulatory and other cards market information
Appendices: Card Payments Data
Appendix I: Demographics and the economy
Appendix II: Payments environment
Appendix III: Cards market
Appendix IV: Mobile payments
Appendix V: Profit pool
Appendix VI: The card networks
Appendix VII: Retail banks and issuers
Appendix VIII: Acquirers and processing
Appendix IX: Online acquiring
Online merchant acquirer market share
Demographics and Economy:
Since joining the EU (then known as the EEC) in 1973, the country has been successful in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). Some of the largest global pharmaceutical and tech companies have based their European headquarters on the island.
Ireland has traditionally been a cash-based economy; that has begun to change in recent years thanks to rapid growth in electronic payments. There has been an explosion in the use of debit cards for purchases, with contactless and e-commerce driving that growth.
The Irish payment cards industry has enjoyed strong growth in both billed volume and transactions over recent years. The total number of payment cards in Ireland (excluding prepaid) increased 13% between 2013 and 2018; of the seven million cards in circulation at the end of 2018, almost three quarters were debit cards.
Contactless card payments have grown rapidly, but consumers have seen little incentive to migrate to mobile. In 2018 an estimated 5% of contactless payments were made via a mobile device. Google and Apple Pay are the main players in the space.
While the market compares favourably to other European markets by some measures, products remain unsophisticated by international standards, with little differentiation between issuers and product lines.
At the end of 2018, Mastercard held an estimated 63% share of credit cards in issue, as well as an estimated 55% of billed volume. Visa is the country's largest debit-card network in terms of card numbers and billed volume ... an estimated market share of 92% both in terms of cards in circulation and billed volume.
Key Retail Banks and Issuers:
Allied Irish Banks (AIB) and Bank of Ireland (BOI) are the leading retail banking players in the market: both (partially state-owned) lenders emerged from Ireland's financial crisis with a dominant position in the market.
Acquiring and Processing:
Ireland's acquiring market has come to be heavily influenced by some of the largest global players, though the two leading banks maintain an interest through joint ventures.
Cards are the leading online payment method in Ireland and face limited competition from alternative payment methods. E-wallets, particularly PayPal, are the preferred alternative
to cards but account for a relatively small proportion of online spend.
Regulatory and Markets Information:
Stakeholders in the country's banking and payments system are represented by the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI), a strategic and technical support body set up in 1997 to provide advice and technical support to members and to act as a forum for discussion on payment- system issues.
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