New research from online payments firm PayPal suggests that, on average, Irish adults are owed €152 each through small loans they have made to friends and family, meaning overall more than €575m of this kind of debt is estimated to be owed here.

PayPal's study suggests much of the debt between friends and family remains outstanding because many people don't have enough readily available cash.

And in a bid to steer us in the direction of a cashless society, the company is removing its fees for euro money transfers between friends and family in Ireland.

Louise Phelan is Vice President of PayPal in Continental Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

She said cash can be "expensive and inconvenient" and "cash is the route of over half a billion euro in IOUs among friends and family in Ireland". 

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Ms Phelan said PayPal is scrapping fees in Ireland on the basis that "if you go to a restaurant sometimes and you're splitting the bill, and you're asking to share the €50 and somebody says they don't have cash and they will pay you back tomorrow ... and that tomorrow never comes".

She said the company's service gives choice to customers and through the paypal app "you can transfer that €50 you owe by either using your email address or your mobile phone and not having to get any additional information".

On the dependency on technology for such services, Ms Phelan said "in any situation you can't rely on technology.

"The reality is it's about convenience ... we want to use that opportunity of the convenience of having your mobile phone with you all the time.

"I think it's a great opportunity now ... to capture back that half a billion euro."

With regard to growing competition from fintech start-ups in the area of small online payments, the PayPal Vice President said: "We have a million (Irish) users today that use PayPal actively all the time. So, straight away there's an opportunity of different features and benefits they can use.

"We're not just a PayPal button, we're actually giving additional services to consumers, and it's about convenience and ease of use."

She added that PayPal welcomes competition in the area of online payment services from within the fintech sector, saying "it's healthy, it keeps us on our toes".