Greece still has a long way to go to match the European average rate in digital transactions, as European Central Bank data on the use of online means per citizen show: Greece only ranked 21st in 2020 among the 27 European Union member-states, with just 166 transactions per year per person, against an average of 266 transactions in the eurozone.
The low ranking – despite the progress recorded in the use of electronic means of payment such as cards and other online networks in this country – is attributed to the lagging in comparison to mature European markets such as Luxembourg, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands where the use of online payments is universal. There is also a significant shortfall even compared to less mature member-states, such as Belgium, France, Germany, Austria and Portugal, and even the Baltic states.
Of course we should not ignore the advance Greece has recorded in recent years in the use of credit and debit cards, rising from 25th in the use of plastic money in the EU in 2019 to 18th last year, based on the ratio of transactions per citizen. The trend that soared at the start of the pandemic is continuing with strength in 2021.
In 2020 the use of online payments was broadened, with 1.77 billion such transactions recorded, an increase of 30.6% compared to 2019. Cards, in particular, posted a 41% annual increase in transactions last year, with their value rising even faster, by 43.7% to 36.8 billion euros against €26.2 billion in 2019.
Money transfers also increased significantly, by 35.3%, to 477.6 million last year from 353 million in 2019, though their value rose by only 5.3% to €718.7 billion from €699 billion a year earlier.
In contrast there was a remarkable reduction in the number of payments made via checks: They posted an annual decline of 20.6%m, to 4.4 million, from 5.6 million in 2019. The value of payments made in this way was also considerably diminished, from €89.4 billion in 2019 to €66.4 billion in 2020.
The value of standing orders remained unchanged at €9 billion last year compared to the year before, with the number of such transactions coming to 26.8 million.