(Greece) – According to the Bank of Greece, 60% fewer Greeks own credit cards than they did before the economic crisis began. However, despite the fact that not as many Greeks own credit cards, credit usage went up in June of 2015 after the government introduced strict capital controls to prevent the people from withdrawing their money at a fast rate. At the time, the Greek government was on the verge of financial collapse. Between the capital controls and the country’s second bailout since 2010, the economy stabilized. However, credit usage increased as people didn’t have enough cash available to meet their daily expenses.
Figures from the Bank of Greece show that in 2009, there were over 6 million active users of credit cards in Greece. By the end of 2015, the number had declined to 2.56 million users. Also, credit usage may have gone up, but the data from the Bank of Greece shows that not many have credit that is strong enough to enable them to use their credit cards to pay their tax bills. Credit and debit card transactions, though, were around 381 million in 2015 and in 2014 there were over 286 million transactions, thus showing that usage has increased by those who do have credit cards.
Greece has been in a recession since before the first bailout that took place in 2015. Since that time, the country has had two more bailouts. All of the bailouts have been controversial, especially since the austerity measures directly impact the people of Greece. Since the bailouts began, the people have experienced public wage decreases, pension cuts, increased taxes, and other measures that have cut down on their monthly income. As a result, those who have credit cards appear to be turning to them in order to help them meet their daily expenses. The international creditors are currently reviewing the parameters of the third bailout to determine if Greece is eligible to receive its second wave of funds from the third bailout.