Thursday, 2 February 2017
Department of Finance
National Payments Plan Implementation
88. To ask the Minister for Finance the steps that will be taken in 2017 to increase the development of card payments in a retail environment in line with the national payment plan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5094/17]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 86 to 89, inclusive, together.
The National Payments Plan, intended to modernise Ireland's payment system, was published in 2013 and covered the period up to 2015. It set out a vision for payments, including universal acceptance of electronic forms of payment, robust and reliable payment systems, and migration from cash and cheques to cards and electronic payments.
Under the National Payments Plan, Ireland made significant progress including full migration to the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) with the result that credit transfers and direct debits paid from anywhere within SEPA are as fast and as reliable as those made domestically. Rounding of 1c and 2c coins was rolled out nationally from October 2015 and has been generally welcomed.
All of the major banks now issue debit cards. Usage is continuing to increase and debit card payments exceeded cash withdrawals for the first time in 2015. Most debit cards now have contactless capability and the contactless payment limit is now €30. In December 2015, interchange rates were reduced to make card acceptance more attractive for retailers and Ireland now has one of the lowest rates of interchange fees on debit cards in the EU. Stamp duty on debit cards was reformed with the effect that stamp duty was removed and replaced with a 12c charge per ATM transaction. There are no charges for debit card transactions. No consumer will lose out as a result of this change as the stamp duty was capped at the previous level of €2.50 or €5, depending on card type.
The measures recommended under the National Payments Plan were designed to ensure that the payments environment here facilitates increased adoption of more efficient payment methods. The EU is creating a single market for payments across the Member States and my Department is now working on transposing EU measures on payments. The Payment Accounts Directive was transposed in September 2016 and it ensures access to a payment account with basic features for anyone who does not have a payment account. The revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2), which is due in 2018, will further open the EU payment market for companies offering consumer or business-oriented payment services based on access to payment accounts and ensure a level playing field for both existing and new players.
The work done as part of the National Payments Plan not only positions Ireland to take advantage of what is happening at European level but also allows actions on payments to be developed as part of the IFS2020 strategy. The IFS2020 Action Plan for 2017, published last week, contains several measures designed to grow jobs in the payments sector.