Hungarians use 9 million bank cards, 75 percent of which are contactless cards, and modern electronic payment solutions are now accepted at 110,000 shops and service providers using almost 140,000 POS terminals, Finance Minister Mihály Varga said in an interview with MTI.
Digitalising the payment system has a considerable impact on competitiveness since cashless payment options make it quicker, safer, cheaper and more convenient to execute payment transactions, Varga said.
The volume of cash in circulation in the Hungarian economy is currently over 5,000 billion forints (EUR 15.4bn) or more than 14 percent of GDP compared to the EU average of about 8 percent.
Manufacturing, safekeeping, transporting and processing cash costs the country hundreds of billions of forints every year. Strengthening financial awareness and encouraging the use of modern electronic payment options instead of cash is in everyone’s shared interest, Varga said.
The finance ministry called a two-round tender two years ago to support the installation of 60,000 POS terminals at shops and service providers across the country, half of which are already operating, the minister noted. Once the programme is completed, almost 80 percent of shops in Hungary will accept bank cards, Varga said.
The value of bank card purchases shows promising growth, having exceeded 5,000 billion forints for the first time last year compared to 3,980 billion forints in 2016.
However, the ratio of electronic payments is still only 25 percent so there is still room for further expansion, the minister said.
The ministry also plans to launch a pilot programme to introduce cashless payments at schools, as part of which POS terminals will be installed at some secondary school cafeterias.