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Greece Country Report

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  • Published Date: June 2017

A comprehensive report on the cards, payments and consumer banking market in Greece.


  • Greece's banking system has undergone major restructuring with Piraeus Bank becoming the largest bank following a series of acquisitions.
  • The number of retail banks fell from 62 in 2010 to 40 at the end of 2016.
  • The rate of credit growth to the household sector has been decelerating since 2009 due to the debt situation and the liquidity squeeze experienced by banks brought about by the financial crisis.
  • Greece has long been among the most cash-dependent countries in Western Europe, but government initiatives have contributed to a rise in electronic payments recently.
  • The imposition of capital controls which restricted access to cash resulted in a dramatic rise in card use at the POS.
  • Debit card purchase volume increased by 145 per cent in 2015, and credit card spending increased for the first time since the financial crisis.
  • The average Greek adult made 21 card transactions in 2016; this is five times greater than in 2014 but still the lowest of any Western European market in Verisk's database.
  • The credit cards market in Greece has experienced a downturn since 2009 due to economic turbulence in the country with the total number of credit cards halving to 2.6 million at the end of 2016.
  • The Greek debit cards market has no domestic debit scheme. All cards carry Maestro, Visa or American Express branding, with the former two brands dominating the market.
  • Alpha Bank became the market leader in the credit cards market after it completed the acquisition of Citibank's retail banking operations in Greece in September 2014.

Greece Payments Research | Report Contents

Demographics and Economy:
Outlines the key metrics and trends which influence the development of retail banking and payments in the country:

  • Population structure
  • Income
  • Mobile and internet use
  • Economic data

Retail Banking:
Verisk explores the structure of the local banking system, its infrastructure and the leading players. Data includes:

  • Aggregate retail banking indicators
  • Bank branch, ATMs and POS terminals
  • The profitability of top banks

Consumer Finance:
Overview of consumer finance in the country. Categories analysed include:

  • Mortgage loans
  • Personal loans
  • Credit card loans
  • Vehicle loans

Credit Cards:
Industry-leading credit card coverage. We detail the past present and future of the industry through our data and commentary, including:

  • Market size split by consumer and commercial credit cards: number of cards, transaction volume, billed volume
  • Profit pool analysis
  • Competitive landscape: networks, issuers

Debit Cards:

  • Market size: number of cards, transaction volume, billed volume
  • Competitive landscape: networks, issuers

Prepaid Cards:

  • Market size: number of cards, transaction volume, billed volume

Greece Country Report | Selected Extracts

Demographics and Economy
The Greek economy has moved from being largely dependent on agriculture, mining and construction to being a service-based economy: service industries account for approximately 82.8% of GDP.

Retail Banking
Banks operating in Greece have several hurdles to overcome, including decreased deposit levels, increased net-credit losses and low return-on-equity ratios. The banking sector has undergone significant restructuring since 2012 with major consolidation taking place.

Consumer Finance
Despite the risk of cannibalising credit card profitability, Greek banks have been encouraging customers to shift their debt from credit cards to personal loans through debt-consolidation products.

Cards Market
Greece is primarily a cash and cheque-orientated country, with these paper-based payments accounting for over 95% of all transactions in the country. Greece lags far behind other EU countries in non-cash transactions; however, card payments are slowly increasing.

Making payments online is gaining popularity in Greece. There has been a considerable rise in internet use and penetration rate of smartphones in Greece which has widened the opportunities for mobile payment players.

Profit Pool
Credit card profitability is under threat from various debt consolidation products, personal loans and even home equity loan products, which are often more affordable and more flexible than credit cards.

Pricing and Enhancements
Greek credit card issuers typically offer insurance add-ons, including travel insurance coverage, emergency medical assistance when travelling and free shopping protection.

Card Networks
Four international card networks operate in the Greek credit cards market: Visa, Mastercard, Diners Club and American Express. Of these, Visa is the market leader, both in terms of the number of credit cards in issue and billed volume. The Greek debit cards market has no domestic debit scheme. All cards carry either Maestro, Visa or American Express branding.

Merchant Acquirers and Processing
As with credit card issuing, the acquiring market in Greece is dominated by a handful of entities. As a result, merchant acquiring in Greece is highly competitive with profit margins much lower than the average European level.

Online Acquiring
The e-commerce market in Greece is one of the fastest-growing among European countries. E-commerce sales in the country grew by 18.8% in 2015 and amounted to an estimated $4.8 billion. E-commerce sales comprise around three per cent of the country's retail sales.

Regulatory Information
The Bank of Greece, established in 1927, is responsible for both the central banking and regulatory framework in Greece. The Bank of Greece's main objective is to ensure price stability, safe payments and a stable financial system.


Verisk financial reports include detailed market and competitor intelligence on payments cards, e-money, acquiring, retail banking, and consumer credit in Europe. Analysts use primary and secondary source data and conduct in-depth interviews with senior industry executives and finance experts.

See more European country reports or explore cards & payments research reports for markets worldwide or view our latest reports.

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