ECONOMY

Credit cards could reduce confusion in euro changeover

Credit cardholders will in all likelihood find it less confusing to use their credit cards rather than the euro during the two-month transitional period to the single currency next year, Pericles Drougas, a member of Visa Hellas’s management board, said yesterday. With 12 countries ready to shed their national currencies and adopt one single currency on January 1, 2002, the chances of confusion and misunderstandings are great. One way of minimizing the disruption is for consumers to finance their transactions with their credit cards, Drougas proposed. Credit card payments are simpler, more reliable and a familiar method for conducting transactions until consumers and businesses become acquainted with the euro, he said. More importantly, credit card undertakings could significantly diminish the hassle of dealing with a new currency. Drougas stressed that users will not be burdened with additional charges or new procedures as a result of the changeover. Credit card association Visa has already implemented a scheme to ensure that members are able to make the transition smoothly. It made its first live euro transaction on January 1, 1999 and has since then monitored the usage and acceptance of the currency among consumers and businesses. Drougas said that the credit card association has already solved the logistical problems associated with the changeover. A total of 184,000 automated teller machines and an unspecified number of points-of-sale were converted to the new euro overnight. The EBRD is participating in the privatization of bankrupt steelmaker Sidex, which is Romania’s largest company through a 100 million euro loan for working capital.