Greeks make their transactions with “plastic money” – The country with the highest distribution of POS in 2020

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Greeks make their transactions with “plastic money” – The country with the highest distribution of POS in 2020

With the growing popularity of card payments or other alternative methods, it is not surprising that the number of POS acceptance terminals has increased by 20% (by approximately 376,000 terminals) from 2018 to 2020, in a number of countries. Central and Eastern Europe, with the corresponding increase in Greece reaching 17% (by approximately 116,000).

In particular, according to a study by technology company Printec, which was conducted in 14 countries of Central and Eastern Europe in which it operates, the distribution of POSs has reached about 18,142 units per million inhabitants for 2020 from about 14,800 in 2018. For In all countries, the number of POS from 2018 to 2020 has increased with the Czech Republic (49%), Albania (40%), Ukraine (31%) and Romania (25%) recording the highest increase. Greece is the market with the highest POS distribution for 2020, which is estimated at 76,132 per million inhabitants.

In this context, it seems that POS terminals used to accept electronic payments have been in significant demand in recent years due to their ease of use, increased electronic payments, improved return on investment and in some cases due to legal obligations. In fact, according to the European Central Bank, the total number of non-cash transactions within the euro area increased by 3.7% – a figure corresponding to 101.6 billion transactions in 2020 – compared to 2019, while the issuance of payment cards increased by 6.5% – a percentage corresponding to 609 million cards.

The functions of POS terminals today are expanding and can now do much more than just receive payments, such as printing invoices, managing inventory, tip and cash back as well as implementing customer reward programs. At the same time, growing financial fraud around the world has affected government agencies, leading to a continuous evolution of regulatory frameworks for the further security of digital transactions, which are increasingly becoming electronic and contactless. Next, Mobile POS (mPOS) and SoftPOS systems are expanding their capabilities, allowing merchants to accept payments almost anywhere with minimal equipment required, improving the customer experience and freeing businesses from the cashier or physical store.

ATMs remain stable during the period 2018-2020

According to the survey, the total number of ATMs installed in the countries where Printec operates remained almost stable, at around 60,000 units during the period 2018-2020, marking a very small drop (-0.4%) from 2018 to in 2020. In Greece, the number of ATMs in the period 2018-2020 increased by 2%, reaching 5,740 ATMs in 2020.

The average distribution of ATMs in Printec countries in 2020 is estimated at 505 units per million inhabitants, with Greece being above average (551 ATMs per million inhabitants), while Albania is at the bottom of the scale ( 257 ATMs per million inhabitants) and in the highest Croatia (1,193 ATMs per million inhabitants). These differences can be easily explained if we take into account the geographical and cultural peculiarities of each country.

It seems that, although the ATM market has been stable for the last 3 years, the ATMs themselves are evolving, mainly in terms of the services they offer, the technologies they use and their design. As customers expect ATMs to perform as well as other accustomed technologies and devices, the functionality and format of ATMs have changed to a more intuitive user experience. From touch screens, finger zoom to contactless transactions and mobile authentication, banking customers can now enjoy a similar ATM experience as other modern consumer electronics.

The role of ATMs in the banking branches of the future

The pandemic played a key role in the digital transformation in 2020, with financial institutions adapting to the new reality. The closure of physical stores, social distancing and lockdowns have pushed both customers and organizations to find new digital ways of trading, with consumers now educated and familiar with digital services and self-service channels.

According to the announcement of Printec, as everything shows, the banking branches in the coming years will be reduced and will have a completely different form. Usually, in bank branches we find 4 “zones” of customer service – the 24-hour self-service zone where the ATMs are located and which is connected to the bank branch, but of course cut off, the assisted self-service zone, which is located inside at the store and customers can make their own transactions on machines and ask for help from employees in case of need, the consulting service zone and the zone for transactions at the cash register. To these are added the services that used to be performed in the store, while now they can be completed remotely, through the digital services that organizations provide to their customers, removing customers from the stores. Thus, in the banking branches of the coming years, the goal is to make most of the routine transactions in the zones of 24-hour self-service operation, assisted self-service operation, while the transactions that give high value to the banks to take place in the advisory zone.

For the record, in 1981, Alpha Bank brought to Greece for the first time the ATMs known as ATMs, while in 1988 Alpha Bank also issued the Cashcard Visa, the first bank and credit card in Greece that was a combination of credit card and withdrawal card and cash deposits.

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