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Greece enforces cashless payment option – to help fight tax evasion

Evangelos Sipsas in Athens


The option to pay by card rather than cash is now mandatory in Greece.

‌From April 1, all businesses including market traders, small shops and taxis must offer cashless payments - or face heavy fines.

It's the latest move by the Greek government to tackle tax evasion. The Finance Ministry will start imposing fines on businesses that do not use a point-of-sale transaction system – or POS, as it's more commonly known.

It means all the remaining sectors of the economy that were previously exempt - such as taxis, kiosks, and outdoor farmers' markets - will now have to accept cashless payments. Many already do. But for those who don't, the switch could be challenging.

"The main complaint I hear is not about the system itself, but about internet connections in taxis and at outdoor markets," Head of Outdoor Farmers Markets Association Dimitris Mouliatos told CGTN. 

"That's our main issue – as well as training people to use it. Most people in outdoor markets are older, and not very familiar with cashless payments."

Shoppers in Athens can no longer use cash. /CFP
Shoppers in Athens can no longer use cash. /CFP

Shoppers in Athens can no longer use cash. /CFP


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Outdoor markets around the country draw an older crowd, more familiar with paying in cash rather than cards; that's why it seems more challenging to switch.

‌But what's more challenging – at least for the government – is to track these transactions made in cash and make sure they're taxed.

‌"We've been extending this deadline for many years. People didn't take us seriously when we said we were going to do this," Greek Finance Ministry spokesperson Omiros Tsapalos told CGTN. "Now we're ready, and we will start imposing the fines for those who don't have this system in place. We have no more time to waste. We're losing money. What's the point of not tackling tax evasion?"

‌Tax evasion costs the Greek government more than $3 billion a year – a significant amount for a country still recovering from a decade-long financial crisis.

‌But small business owners say these measures could actually be counterproductive for the economy. They say that if banks and the government don't do more to regulate commission fees, going cashless could mean going out of business.

Greece enforces cashless payment option – to help fight tax evasion

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