NEWS

Cash beats electronic banking

An increasing number of electronic financial transactions are taking place in Greece but the vast majority of Greeks still prefer to conduct their business with cash, which accounts for some 95 percent of commercial exchanges, according to figures released yesterday. This means that only 5 percent of transactions in Greece are carried out electronically, compared to a European average of 30 percent, including use of ATMs to transfer money, phone banking, Internet banking and standing orders. According to DIAS Interbank Systems, there was an increase of more than 73 percent in the number of electronic transactions taking place in Greece last year compared to 2004. The exchanges were worth more than 130 billion euros. This was brought about partly because of the decision of a number of banks to upgrade the security of their Internet banking systems and to make the sites more user-friendly. However, this figure includes large payments, such as wages and pensions, which some companies and state services pay directly into beneficiaries’ accounts. The most popular methods for private customers to familiarize themselves with electronic transactions is at their bank’s cash machines or through Internet banking, which appears to be gaining popularity in Greece. Some 700,000 people out of the 5 million account holders used these two methods to conduct transactions last year. The exchanges over the Internet alone accounted for some 10 billion euros, according to the data from DIAS. Around 200 million transactions, worth some 2 billion euros, take place through cash machines.