Bank of Ireland has defended its charges and fees where customers pay one cent per contactless card payment and ten cents for chip and PIN transactions.

Representatives of the bank are before the Oireachtas Finance Committee this afternoon.

Sinn Féin's finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty asked: "How can Bank of Ireland justify charging 10 cents for every transaction on a visa debit card?"

Gavin Kelly, CEO of Bank of Ireland's Retail Ireland division, said the current pricing on current accounts was introduced three or four years ago.

He said: "We charge one cent for our contactless transactions and 10 cent for a visa debit transaction at point of sale that is not contactless. And up to a branch transaction, a teller transaction which costs 60 cents. We believe in the round the service we provide for those transactions in that mix, represents very good value."

He said that on average a current account customer would pay about €60 for that service per year.

He said that about 50% of the bank's personal current account base do not pay those transactions at all.

But Mr Doherty said it is a "hidden charge" whereby a customer pays 60 cents for a cup of tea but using a chip and PIN will transaction will cost 70 cents.

He said that if a Bank of Ireland customer has €3,000 in their account they are not going to be charged at all. So the people being charged the 10 cent are those who are less cash rich, those who are more vulnerable in our society and they are being gouged every time they go and buy a newspaper and use their debit card to do so."

Mr Doherty asked for clarity whereby it cost one cent for a transaction paid for by tapping a bank card and ten cent for putting in the card and using a PIN.

When Mr Kelly confirmed that is the case, Mr Doherty asked how the bank can charge ten times more for the same transaction just because you have entered your PIN instead of tapping it?

Mr Kelly said he would prefer to look at the total cost of banking and said Bank of Ireland provides a service to their customers for the price of €60 per year or €5 per month which is very good value as it provides 24/7 access for customers.

Mr Kelly did say that the bank has the package of fees charges under review at the moment.

He said the service introduced a few years ago "represents very good value for our customers".

Mr Doherty replied "It's definitely good value for Bank of Ireland because you made €431 million on the back of fees and charges last year."