By Ioanna Zikakou

Use of plastic money in retail has almost tripled since the imposition of capital controls in the country, with credit institutions issuing more than 1.1 million debit cards in the period from the end of June until early August. Previously, Greek banks were issuing less than 100,000 debit cards a month on average.

A report by the Institute of Commerce and Services of the National Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship released on Friday highlighted the significance of electronic commerce in the development of enterprises and the Greek economy in general.

The report’s basic conclusions for 2014 are -Money spent on visa cards in 2014 represented just one euro every 33 euros of consumer spending, compared to one euro every six euros in Europe, but this rate has dramatically changed since the imposition of capital controls in the country.

Visa Europe figures showed that in the first two weeks of the imposition of capital controls, transactions with credit/debit cards soared 135% compared to the previous two-week period, with the food sector recording a spectacular 234% rise, followed by the health sector (206%) and gas stations (193%). Turnover using POS for debit cards more than doubled compared to last year, while new codes for users of e-banking services rose five times with more than 150,000 new users in July.

The imposition of capital controls boosted the use of plastic money, offering a very significant dynamism to the sector. According to estimates, use of plastic money could contribute to the reduction of tax evasion (around 25% of GDP) by around 5.0 billion euros and raising tax revenue by more than 1.0 billion euros on an annual basis.

E-commerce showed signs of improvement in 2014, with Greek online consumers raising the number of categories purchased online by around 10%. Forecasts for 2015 remain positive, with six out of 10 online consumers expected to raise the value of their online purchases, while only one in 10 was expected to cut spending.

(Source: ANA-MPA)