At the end of this summer, many catering establishments, entertainment centers, non-chain stores began to experience difficulties with paying with bank cards. Instead of “plastic”, customers are strongly advised to use cash or online transfers. A survey of entrepreneurs and experts shows that it is not about tax evasion and not about this year’s Western sanctions. The problem is simpler and at the same time more serious, the case may end with the decline of the era of plastic cards, experts predict.
There were, of course, precedents for “broken down” terminals for paying with cards before, especially in restaurants and establishments such as tire shops. And especially at the end of the reporting periods (month, quarter), when the administrators of institutions needed cash like air for various kinds of calculations.
But if earlier the inability to pay in cash was explained by technical reasons, now there are sometimes no explanations from the staff of the establishments at all. Please pay in cash – or by transfer to a card (QR code for the online payment system).
That is, there is a physical opportunity to pay with a card – and if someone fundamentally needs it through the terminal, then he is nothing more than an auditor or a squabbler. And if they get the terminal, it will only be through a scandal …
Such business behavior, explains Vasily Solodkov, director of the HSE Banking Institute, is aimed at reducing costs in the face of a reduction in household income, and therefore, the flow of customers, revenue, and assortment. Paying with online transfers or cash means avoiding the commission for acquiring (bank card servicing). In addition, payments in cash or through private cards are less visible to government agencies, which means that such a measure contributes to the withdrawal of turnover into the “gray” or even “black” zone.
“I personally encountered this in a chain restaurant that has been around for about a quarter of a century,” says the expert. — Indeed, they are urged to pay using a QR code, and restaurateurs can be understood. People’s incomes have decreased, they are ready to pay less than before. And fewer visitors means less profitability, while wages and rent have to be paid. In such conditions, any, even a ridiculous percentage of savings plays a role.
The factor of consciousness also plays a role in making such decisions by businessmen, Solodkov believes. “People have a question: why pay taxes, what is the point of paying taxes?” the expert says. With such a formulation of the question – indeed, why not save at least a little …
“Firstly, it must be said that the share of online transfers in the payment market did not start growing today or yesterday,” said Alma Obayeva, Chairman of the Board of the National Payment Council. – If the share of transfers in the total balance of payments five years ago was negligible, now it is the lion’s share, more than 40% of the market. This share has sharply increased, including after the introduction of the Fast Payment System: money passes not in three days, as before, but in seconds, sometimes even SMS about receipt of money arrives earlier than about debiting. This stimulates further growth, although there is no cashback on transfers, which means that some buyers are losing something.
However, the current environment may indeed make businesses want to move away from card payments even more. Some time ago, the Central Bank, by its decision, introduced a 1% acquiring rate, that is, a fee for making payments on cards (this was progress compared to 2% rates of international payment systems). This, Obaeva recalls, was caused by the pandemic.
At the same time, the rules for preferential settlement services for Mir cards for small businesses were adopted, the expert emphasized. But these benefits were temporary, and now most of them have ceased. “And now everyone saves a pretty penny, no one wants to pay this additional tax, as even President Vladimir Putin called acquiring,” said Alma Obayeva.
With the restriction of work in Russia, of course, the VISA and Master Card systems also removed their bonuses for business. Under these conditions, it is logical that it is more profitable for companies to rely on online transfers.
Several metropolitan entrepreneurs have confirmed that accepting cash or online transfers is more profitable for them than paying by card. However, none of the interviewed businessmen (including the owner of a barbershop, car service, non-chain grocery store) reported the closure of the payment terminal. That is, the theoretical possibility to pay by the traditional banking method is still present.
For an ordinary buyer or client of the service sector, the following conclusion can be drawn: given the bank commission that arises when using transfers too often (for an amount, say, more than 50 thousand rubles a month), the most profitable way of payment is good old cash. Unless, of course, such an almost antique thing as a wallet has been preserved in everyday life.