One in ten businesses still refuse credit cards

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One out of ten businesses in Cyprus is still refusing to accept credit cards as payment for services and goods, despite a Finance Ministry decree obliging them to do so.

As of 18 September, a Finance Ministry decree obliges all retail businesses and services in Cyprus, from kiosks to plumbers and lawyers, to accept card payments.

Businesses should establish wireless and wired POS, mobile POS and virtual POS terminals and accept card payment from Visa, Mastercard, Maestro and UnionPay.

However, after giving businesses several weeks to comply, the Tax Department took to the streets to find that some 100 businesses out of the 1,000 they inspected had yet to install a POS system, nor had they requested one from a provider.

According to Phileleftheros daily, Tax Department officials targeted doctors, lawyers, and accountants, as well as retailers.

It is believed these groups are a high tax risk, as some did not comply with their tax obligations, or did not declare all their income, or did not accept credit cards as a means of payment.

According to Phileleftheros, despite the law stipulating that companies refusing to accept credit cards are subject to a maximum fine of €2,000, officials imposed a €200 fine as a warning.

Businesses were also told that if they paid their fines within 30 days, 50% of the fine would be discounted.

However, they were warned that the government would not be lenient if no POS terminal were installed.

The Tax Department is continuing inspections, while those found not to have installed a POS will be visited once more.

During the audits, the officials of the Tax Department had identified many companies that were installing the terminals.

In these cases, no sanctions were imposed, as documents were presented that prove they would soon introduce the specific machines.

As part of the inspections, companies were also advised to put up signs to inform consumers that credit cards are accepted.