The first indications of mass compliance by freelance workers with the obligation to accept payments by card are already evident in data from the first month of the year, as, according to banks, one in four requests for the installation of card terminals is coming from professionals such as doctors, lawyers, accountants etc.
This trend is expected to peak in the coming months as, within the next few days, the Finance Ministry is expected to issue its decision on which professions will be in the first batch of sectors that will have to accept card payments by June 2017.
Sources say that those sectors will be catering (restaurants, cafes, bars etc), repairs, education, apparel, rentals, hairdressers, gyms, law-related activities, medical services, telecommunications, energy and games of chance. By the end of June, all of them will likely be obliged to offer facilities for card payments by their customers, who must make enough online payments per year to secure an income tax discount and avoid paying fines.
Banks and companies that install card terminals have already recorded a doubling of demand in January: Between 8,000 and 9,000 applications were submitted last month while the average rate in previous months was around 4,000 per month.
There are about 320,000 card terminals installed in Greece, up from 220,000 in 2015, with the prospect of reaching 400,000 within this year.
According to sources, the increase in card transactions is estimated at 50 percent from January 2016, while turnover has risen 30 percent, showing that more and more citizens are opting to use plastic over cash.
A significant portion of the demand for new terminals, estimated at between 23 and 25 percent, came from freelance workers in January, while in 2015 and 2016 this rate was at 12-13 percent and before 2015 it was at just 5-7 percent.
The same data show that turnover through card terminals has soared 136 percent over the last couple of years and banks expect transactions in plastic money will exceed 20 billion euros in 2017, up from 15 billion in 2016.