Value of card trans­ac­tions, POS ter­mi­nals dou­ble within a year

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY ALEKOS LIDORIKIS

“A few days ago we in­stalled a card ter­mi­nal (POS) to meet ris­ing de­mand for payments in plas­tic money. Many of our cus­tomers con­sid­ered it a pre­req­ui­site to come back to us to be able to pay us­ing a card,” says the owner of a small sea­side tav­erna on the is­land of San­torini. On another Aegean is­land, Asty­palea, one em­ployee says: “Visi­tors used to ask us if there is an ATM on our is­land; now they ask if there are POS at rooms to let, stores and other busi­nesses. De­mand is huge.”

The num­bers con­firm these tes­ti­monies: In the last year some 150,000 POS ter­mi­nals have been added to the Greek mar­ket, rais­ing their to­tal to over 300,000, from some 160,000 in June 2015 when the gov­ern­ment im­posed the cap­i­tal con­trols.

Card ter­mi­nals are now in­stalled even at busi­nesses that never used to ac­cept plas­tic money, such as tav­er­nas, small re­tail­ers, drug­stores, kiosks, taxis, as well as by self-em­ployed pro­fes­sion­als such as doc­tors, lawyers, en­gi­neers etc.

Con­verg­ing es­ti­mates col­lected by Kathimerini point to the po­ten­tial for an ad­di­tional 150,000 POS ter­mi­nals in the Greek mar­ket, tak­ing into ac­count the coun­try’s tourism mar­ket, to reach a to­tal of around 450,000 ter­mi­nals at least. This fig­ure will not take long to be reached. Nev­er­the­less, much as the use of cards in Greece has in­creased in the last 13 months, it con­tin­ues to con­sid­er­ably lag other Euro­pean coun­tries, show­ing the po­ten­tial for growth in the sec­tor.

In 2015 ev­ery Greek ac­counted for an av­er­age of 20 card trans­ac­tions per year (not in­clud­ing ATM cash with­drawals), up from eight trans­ac­tions in 2014, and an av­er­age of 93 trans­ac­tions per Euro­pean Union cit­i­zen (in 2014).

To­tal turnover through cards is­sued in Greece amounted to 9 bil­lion eu­ros – or 818 eu­ros per cit­i­zen – in 2015, against 4.7 bil­lion – or 428 eu­ros/cit­i­zen – the year be­fore that, and an av­er­age of 3,947 eu­ros/cit­i­zen in the EU in 2014. This means that trans­ac­tions by card al­most dou­bled within a year in Greece, while re­main­ing way be­hind the EU av­er­age.

Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est of­fi­cial data, there are some 15 mil­lion cards (credit, debit and pre­paid) that are ac­tive and cir­cu­lat­ing in Greece, is­sued by the lo­cal banks. This amounts to a mean rate of 1.4 cards per cit­i­zen, which is very close to the EU av­er­age of 1.5 cards per cit­i­zen.

In end-2015, data showed that debit cards ac­counted for 81 per­cent of all cir­cu­lat­ing cards, while credit cards saw their share shrink to 19 per­cent, as Greeks have clearly shifted to­ward debit and pre­paid cards.

Many taxis have in­stalled card ter­mi­nals, as data show POS ap­pli­ances in Greece have ex­ceeded 300,000 and there is scope for them to rapidly grow to 450,000.

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