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Greece has made a leap in electronic payments since the period of capital controls and later during the pandemic, but Greeks’ familiarity with electronic money is far from the modern electronic solutions offered by technology. In addition, the way people in this country do their online transactions is outdated and in many cases very expensive.
According to Evgenia Tzortzi's article for kathimerini, people have become familiar with electronic money through debit cards, which, however, is an expensive means of payment – even if its users are not aware of it – due to the fees charged that go unnoticed by the cardholder because they are incorporated into product prices. Greek banks have supported the spread of plastic money through bonus programs, for the obvious reason that they collect commissions from merchants.
The use of cards has not only tripled in the last five years, from 505 million transactions to 1.5 billion, but their share in the total turnover of electronic payments has also expanded and they represent 69.5% of total electronic transactions carried out in the country, against 49.3% in the eurozone and 52% in the EU.
Electronic payments through credit transfers, a method which has decreased in Greece from 32.5% in 2017 to 22.4% in 2021, and standing orders, whose share is limited to only 1.2% of all e-payments compared to 22% and 20.3% respectively in the eurozone.
ECB data confirm that the Greeks do not have a culture of payment through standing orders: In the eurozone the annual number of direct debits per inhabitant was 67.6 transactions, while it was 53.8 transactions in the EU and just 2.4 transactions in Greece.
The European Central Bank promotes interbank payments with the creation of TIPS (Target2 Instant Payment Settlement), which introduces instant payments on a pilot basis in a fast, secure and cheap way. In Greece the direct payment service is offered by most banks for sending money across Europe in less than 10 seconds.
Furthermore in Greece the IRIS interbank service has been developed for direct money transfers, using the TIPS infrastructure, but for transfers between Greek banks.