Regulations are going to change in January in Hungary: merchants who have an online cash register can no longer refuse to accept payment without cash. The Ministry of Finance is extending its POS terminal installation programme.
A few months
Since contactless payment caught on very quickly, and its value limit was increased to 15,000 forints, more and more of us forget to carry cash with us, as there is less and less need for it. Now, however, it may happen that we can’t pay electronically at a merchant, and, in such a case, if we don’t have cash on us, we either have to find a cash machine or avoid shopping there altogether.
However, this problem will disappear in a few months: from January 1, 2021, all businesses that have an online cash register will be required to accept some form of cashless payment. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a bank card: thanks to the instant payment system, it is now possible to pay by bank transfer, as it won’t take longer than 5 seconds for the transferred amount to appear in the recipient’s account. Customers can initiate a mobile bank transfer on their phone, which can be made easier by the merchant providing a secondary ID for this, which simplifies the process.
In addition, other payment methods can also gain ground, such as QR code payment, which is virtually an automated, simplified form of money transfer, in which for each transaction the merchant generates a unique QR code, which can be photographed with the customer’s phone and then payment is activated straight away. Several banks already provide QR code payment options, and from next year it will probably be available in all banks.
At the end of June, 200,000 cash registers were connected with POS terminals, and there were another 60,000 where electronic payment was not yet available. The new legislation thus affects these 60,000; and if they decide to install a terminal now, they can do it practically at no extra cost, as the budget for the second POS terminal installation programme of the Ministry of Finance has not been fully spent, and therefore the program has been extended until 30 June, 2021.
Low commission, increasing turnover
Service providers participating in the programme can only charge merchants a commission of up to one percent of the turnover, so the argument merchants used i.e. that because of the high commission they lose significant revenue unless they raise prices, is no longer valid. At the same time, turnover is expected to grow in almost all these outlets, as the growing number of customers not using cash will not have to avoid these stores any more.