Greece’s Ministry of Finance has asked the Hellenic Bank Association (HBA) to review “excessive” fees charged to business owners for POS transactions.

The pressure on the HBA to review commissions is due to the fact that POS machines are now mandatory for virtually all businesses, and on account of persistent complaints from various sectors that commissions are so high that many times they sell products at loss.

The greatest source of complaints stems from businesses selling low-cost items, like kiosk owners, which were also very resistant to the fairly new Greek law mandating the installation of POS machines.

In detail, each transaction using a POS machine results in a loss of income for the business owner on account of commissions charged to three entities just for using the device, including an amount that goes to the POS provider itself, to Visa or Mastercard, and to a Greek bank.

Kiosk owners say that, for example, they purchase cigarettes for 4.38 and sell them for 4.60 euro, amounting to a measly profit of just 0.22 cents. The total commission charged for this transaction when purchased via POS can range between 0.45%-2%, meaning that kiosk owners make little to no profit.

According to reports at ERT, a decision on the matter is expected from the HBA by the end of March, which is also the deadline for shops to install their POS machines before they risk paying a 1,500 euro fine.

It should be noted that at the end of 2023, Greece’s competition watchdog authority issued a massive fine, exceeding 41.75 million euros in total, against all four systemic banks in the country and the Hellenic Bank Association (HBA) for excessive fees charged on a myriad of transactions and for “cartel-like practices”.

Fines of 12.99 million euros were levied against Piraeus Bank; 9.97 million euros against National Bank of Greece (NBG); 9.11 million euros against Alpha Bank; 7.97 million euros against Eurobank, and a 143,000-euro fine against non-systemic Attica Bank.

The Hellenic Bank Association itself was charged with a 1.55-million-euro fine.

In a first statement after the unprecedented development was reported, relevant Development Minister Costas Skrekas emphasized that the “…imposition of the fines confirms the state’s decisiveness, through every institutional appendage, for continuous inspections in order to apply the law. Inspections will continue and interventions will be immediate and effective, where this is deemed necessary, towards the benefit of citizens and the smooth operation of the market at all levels.