The Central Bank of Ireland had released its latest credit and debit card statistics for Q2 2018.

The figures show that the total number of debit cards in issue rose to over 5 million in June 2018, the highest number since the series began in January 2015, although approximately 685,000 of these debit cards are not in active use. The total monthly value of new card transactions (including ATM transactions) increased by 6 per cent on an annual basis to €5.8 billion in June. The total value of debit card transactions (including ATM transactions) were 5.4 times the value of credit card expenditure.

Debit card Point of Sale (PoS) transactions in June 2018 equated to €3.1 billion, an increase of 8 per cent on the same month in 2017 (Chart 1). Debit card PoS transactions accounted for 54 per cent of gross new transactions on all cards in June. Credit card spending also increased year-on-year in June, albeit by a lower extent, rising by €13.5 million.

Debit card PoS expenditure equated to roughly three and a half times the value of credit card spending in June 2018. Significant growth in debit card expenditure was recorded across all main categories, with retail spending increasing by €253 million (or 18 per cent) on an annual basis in June (Table 1). Expenditure in the services sector rose by 15 per cent, with the social sector increasing by 20 per cent. Within the social sector, restaurant/ dining recorded the highest annual growth rate of any sub-category, rising by 23 per cent.

In contrast, credit card expenditure rose at a notably slower pace than debit cards in June 2018, increasing by 2 per cent on a year-on-year basis. Spending in the retail, services and social sectors rose by circa 5 per cent on the year. The utilities sub-category recorded the highest growth in credit card expenditure, increasing by 12 per cent. Other notable increases included the education, transport and restaurants/dining sub-categories.

Total e-commerce expenditure continued to grow on an annual basis in June, rising by 13 per cent to just over €1.4 billion.  Of this, €1 billion and €412 million is attributable to debit cards and credit cards respectively (Chart 2). As a share of total new transactions, e-commerce expenditure has fallen from a peak of 29 per cent in January 2018 to 25 per cent in June. E-commerce now accounts for 21 per cent of all debit card expenditure and 45 per cent of all credit card purchases.

In total, 77 per cent of credit card spending was split between the retail (39 per cent) and services (38 per cent) sectors in June 2018 (Chart 3). In comparison, expenditure in the retail sector accounted for over half (53 per cent) of all debit card PoS spending.

Credit and debit card expenditure outside Ireland (when the physical card is present) provides an indication of spending abroad by Irish tourists. Significant seasonal effect can be seen in the data, particularly for debit cards, with higher expenditures outside Ireland recorded in the summer months compared to the winter months.

Total debit and credit card expenditure outside Ireland averaged €594 million in the three months to end-June 2018 (Chart 4), up 16 per cent on the same period the previous year. Debit card expenditure abroad rose to almost €1.3 billion in the second quarter of 2018, an increase of 19 per cent on the same quarter a year earlier. The total value of debit card expenditure outside Ireland (including ATM transactions) accounts for 73 per cent of total card expenditure abroad. The pace of growth in credit card expenditure abroad also increased in Q2 2018, rising by 10 per cent year-on-year to €497 million.