BUSINESS

Banks offer incentives for deposits

EVGENIA TZORTZI

TAGS: Banking, Economy

Greek banks are adopting reward programs and higher interest rates for savings, up to half a percentage point above the average for time deposits, in a bid to entice customers to bring their cash back into the banking system after the recent relaxation of capital controls.

The lenders are targeting money that can be withdrawn from safe deposit boxes and put in bank accounts, from which customers can withdraw up to 840 euros in one go every two weeks, according to the latest adjustments to capital controls, rather than the previous weekly limit of 420 euros.

The scaling back of restrictions on withdrawals also means that customers can take out 30 percent of their money transferred to their account from abroad in cash. Previously, the limit had been 10 percent. The indications so far are that the recent changes to the rules have helped restore some confidence in the banking system, leading to a gradual increase in deposits.

The interest rates on offer to customers who bring their money to the banks reach up to 1.3 percent, while in comparison the average rate for time deposits in Greece has slipped to around 0.8 percent. The majority of banks have also adopted reward schemes, which offer customers points or vouchers that can be redeemed at stores that are part of the programs. It is expected that the banks will try to make these schemes even more attractive from the fall, with the aim of attracting larger deposits.

Banking sources say that one of the crucial factors in the flow of deposits will be how customers react to the online declaration of assets that all Greeks will have to fill in from October. For the first time, taxpayers will have to declare any cash they have outside of the banking system if it totals more than 15,000 euros.

Bankers hope that customers will view this as an opportunity to return money to the banks so they can declare it and not face the risk of further action in the future from the tax authorities.

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