The use of cards as a means of payment in physical and online stores has now become dominant.
Cards: How Greeks pay everyday purchases and bills
Despite its significant rise, however, the scope for further growth in digital transactions remains significant.
In this context, banks, clearing firms and fintechs have already taken up battle positions to claim as large a share as possible in a sector that looks set to continue to expand at a high rate in the coming years.
Market sources note that the conditions in the Greek economy for strengthening related operations are currently ideal, underlining that the future in the payments industry is undoubtedly digital.
The data recorded are indicative of these perspectives. According to a recent IOBE study, last year the value of domestic card transactions exceeded the value of cash withdrawals from ATMs for the first time.
From levels lower than 10 billion euros seven years ago, it was formed last year in the area of 50 billion euros, which is of course a historical high.
This is an impressive change in consumer habits, which began in 2015 after the imposition of capital controls and continues to this day.
In addition, cards are being used more and more frequently, even in the lowest value markets, a development reflected in the reduction of the average value per transaction to 28 euros from around 60 euros in 2015.
The increase in remote payments with debit and credit cards is similar, which increased by 70% and 100% respectively, compared to the period before the pandemic.
According to the Managing Director of Nexi Greece, Dionysis Gregorato, given that 7 out of 10 internet users prefer to make online purchases, expanding a business online offers merchants a significant opportunity.
In addition, the ability to shop directly from social media, easily and quickly, is already a trend.
The role of tourism
He also underlines the important role played by the tourism industry in shaping the upward trends mentioned above, as the majority of foreign visitors choose to pay by card.
As it states, the arrivals of foreign tourists in Greece in the spring quarter exceeded the levels of 2019 by 10% and the receipts by 19% (2.8 billion euros).
According to him, “traditional markets played a key role, with their share increasing to 42% from 39% in 2019 and the US market standing out with almost doubling of arrivals compared to 2022 and consistently high per capita spending” .
Where have we fallen behind?
However, Mr. Gregoratos notes that despite the rapid development of the Greek digital transaction market, there are still solutions that we see in other markets and have not yet been adopted by Greek merchants.
One of the most obvious examples, he points out, is QR code payments for everyday goods.
It is, as he mentions, a technology that already exists in Greece, however it is mainly used for bill payments and has not been adopted by commercial enterprises.
“Currently in Greece, there is still room to improve the customer experience, create personalized solutions adapted to the needs of specific industries and develop integrated e-commerce solutions that can meet the ever-evolving requirements” argues the Managing Director of Nexi Hellas .
As he explains, there are payment needs that the big merchants have not yet faced and they concern the facilitation and acceleration of electronic payments in areas of wider interest.
“The solutions that exist today are fragmented, complicate the user’s life and exclude foreign visitors from using them,” he emphasizes.
Typical examples are the following:
– Energy through EV chargers, which have as a prerequisite the ability to pay on the spot to charge the vehicle via card
– Payment solutions for urban mobility that will make it easier for the citizen to pay with a card for the electronic ticket of public transport
– Vending machines at gas stations that will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.