Bringing in national €50 contactless limit by April an ‘urgent priority’

25 Mar 2020

Image: © Yakobchuk Olena/

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, cash use has dropped as Ireland gets set to raise the contactless transaction limit to €50.

Across Ireland and many parts of Europe, contactless transactions are being encouraged for payments in stores in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus through physical contact and cash.

According to Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI), demand for cash is now down by around 20pc, as banks, retailers and tech companies are working towards a national roll-out of an increase to the contactless payment limit.

Future Human

Currently, card payments using contactless at most stores cannot exceed €30, unless customers are using services such as Google Pay or Apple Pay. BPFI said that by 1 April, it’s hoped that €50 will be the new national limit.

‘A matter of urgent priority’

Speaking of the move, BPFI’s head of payments schemes, Gill Murphy, said this is vital at a time when cash is being discouraged for public health concerns.

“We are working together to make it happen as a matter of urgent priority in order to facilitate consumers’ ability to make some payments without the need for physical contact,” she said.

“Due to the many technicalities involved, there is no central method by which this can be delivered, but rather it is case of all parties working together to ensure consumers can avail of the new limit of €50. We are confident that it will be complete by 1 April.

“In these challenging times we also encourage consumers and retailers to follow the HSE advise when using card terminals to pay for goods in-store where the input of a PIN may still be required.”

Contactless shift

Almost all of the major banks based in Ireland have waived any fees placed on contactless payments during the ongoing pandemic. AIB postponed its roll-out of a 1c fee per payment, along with other account charges, while Bank of Ireland also announced plans to temporarily suspend its own 1c fee.

Ulster Bank said it was maintaining its fee, while other banking services – such as KBC and digital newcomers Revolut – continue to have no fee placed on contactless payments.

Since the last quarter of 2019, cash use had already been falling, with the number of contactless payments numbering 1.5m a day in Ireland, totalling 508m for the year. Valued at more than €6.1bn in total, the average payment was relatively low at €12.25 in Q4 2019.

This was compared with an average payment of €41.53 for all debit cards and €74.60 for all credit cards. Data from the Central Bank of Ireland showed that the value of ATM cash withdrawals dropped by 1.3pc in 2019 to €19.7bn.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic