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Greeks use their cards even for 2 euro purchases | CNN Greece

April 2021

8th Digital Banking Forum

The measures taken to combat the COVID-19 pandemic seem to have accelerated even more the trend of recent years toward Greek consumers using their cards, particularly debit cards, even for low value purchases.

At least this is what is shown by the data presented yesterday by Cardlink’s Commercial Director, Antigonos Papadopoulos, during the 8th Digital Banking Forum held by Ethos Events.

More specifically, according to Cardlink’s estimates, card transactions underwent a 15% year-on-year increase in 2020, reaching 1.2 billion.

The increase rate becomes even more interesting if we take into account the fact that Cardlink estimates that last year there was approximately a 3% decrease in the total value of card transactions. A percentage which is clearly lower than the estimated decrease of retail sales during the past year.

In practice, Greeks seem to prefer cards as a means of payment, even for transactions of low value.

According to data derived from Cardlink’s POS network, which are quite reliable as it is the largest company in this sector, in 2020 37% of the total number of transactions executed through POS terminals managed by Cardlink were for transactions up to 10 euro. A rate which is enhanced by 5 percentage points compared to 2019 (32%) and by 9 points compared to 2018 (28%).

However, it is worth noting that the relevant percentage reached 42% for the first quarter of 2021.

A similar increase can be seen in the trend regarding transactions with a value of up to 5 euro.

At the end of 2020 the relevant percentage was 20% compared to 16% and 12% in 2019 and 2018 respectively, while at the end March 2021 it reached 23%.

However, the most interesting fact is that the share of card transactions for amounts up to 2 euro reached 8% at the end of March 2021, from 6% in 2020, 5% in 2019 and just 2% in 2018.

It is clear that consumers’ efforts to limit cash transactions due to the coronavirus pandemic has also contributed to this trend. This is also evident from the fact that now 93% of card transactions are contactless, while the relevant percentage in 2020 was 92%, from 71% at the end of 2019 and 58% in 2018. This practically means that in 2020 consumers preferred to carry out contactless transactions, as per the recommendations of experts.

Yet another indication of increased usage is the fact that today 89% of transactions are performed with debit cards, while the respective percentage was 75% in 2019 and 72% in 2018.
Furthermore, there was a further decrease in the average value per debit card transaction. At the end of March it reached 26 euro from 30 euro at the end of December 2020, while in 2019 it was 33 euro and in 2018 35 euro.

Finally, the shift toward the use of cards is also the result of the increase in POS terminals in 2020, with an additional 70 thousand terminals, which brings the total number, always according to Cardlink estimates, to 770 thousand. This is an indication that even the smallest businesses as well as several freelancers acquired POS terminals.

It should be noted that Mr. Papadopoulos announced that from now consumers will have the option to not print a copy of the transactions performed with Cardlink Android POS terminals, as it is practically not particularly useful since all transactions appear immediately on web and mobile banking applications.


A key reason behind the increase in card usage is, of course, e-commerce. According to Mr. Papadopoulos, Cardlink estimates that card transactions for online purchases reached a value of 4 billion euro in 2020, showing a year-on-year increase of 15%. The number of transactions increased by 70%, to 106 million, another example of the shift toward online shopping.
An interesting fact regarding e-Commerce is that average transaction value has decreased by 15 euro in the last two years. More specifically, regarding the Cardlink network, in March 2021 it reached 55 euro, from 60 euro at the end of 2020.

It is noted that average transaction value was 77 euro in 2018 and 70 euro in 2019.

In addition, e-Commerce transactions up to 10 euro reached 20% of the total number of transactions, from 14% at the end of 2020. However, a similar increase had taken place in 2019, when they increased to 18% of the total number of transactions, from 12% in 2018.

Published on CNN Greece.
Interview: Dimitris Mallas