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Citizens still prefer to pay in cash

North Macedonia's citizens still prefer to pay in cash. Although new payment methods such as online and mobile banking offer many perks, they are still not widely accepted by the public.

Skopje, 12 March 2019 (MIA) – North Macedonia’s citizens still prefer to pay in cash. Although new payment methods such as online and mobile banking offer many perks, they are still not widely accepted by the public.

Figures released by the National Bank show that 2,896,599 out of the approximately five million transactions in Sept. 2018 were cash transactions, and 2,069,280 were online transactions.

Online payment methods are more popular among legal entities as evident by the fact they made 1,771,544 of all online transactions.

Individuals made only 297,736 online payments.

Over 66,000 of these online transactions were completed via mobile phones.

Mobile payments are on the rise. In Jan. 2016, 13,085 online transactions were completed via mobile phones, rising to 29,367 in Dec. 2016.

In Jan. 2017 these transactions amounted to 25,597 and kept rising to 54,897 transactions in Dec. 2017.

Banks keep investing in new technologies to provide customers with 24-hour service. Almost all banks in North Macedonia have their own mobile banking apps. To attract more users, they offer benefits such as reduced fees, but clients are still unwilling to embrace these new payment methods.

“Past experiences show an upward trend in mobile banking,” a representative from Ohridska Banka, member of Société Générale Group, told MIA. “Although our clients use the app mainly to check their bank statements, they are also getting used to making online transactions.

“They understand the benefits of online banking, including the fact that it saves time and money.

“Some clients even offer suggestions on how we can improve and expand our online services.”

However, the bank has a lot of clients who are still wary of any new technology and online payment methods. Some people are either more used to making transactions in person or don’t know how to use smartphones and the Internet for this purpose.

Banks have the potential and expertise to educate the population on how to use these technologies and embrace a new way of banking.

Through mobile apps, clients can turn their phones into virtual banks. They can access all their accounts, deposits, credit cards, and loans, and make transactions at their convenience.

A representative from Ohridska Banka said their app could be downloaded for free from the Google Play and Apple App stores. The app supports Android 4.2 and IOS 7.0 or more recent versions of these operating systems and is available in three languages: Macedonian, Albanian and English. A team of experts is continually working on improving the app’s functionality and increasing users’ access.

Online banking allows clients to make their transactions faster, and pay lower transaction fees.

Mobile banking apps provide clients with access to their accounts, balance and available funds at any time. This includes an overview of their balance, turnover, card transactions, payment orders; amortization plans, an advanced search of payment orders and statements, an overview of loans, credit and debit cards, deposits, etc.

Clients can also use payment order templates to make faster payments to personal accounts, loans and credit cards, as well as payment order templates to pay utilities. They can also make payments with the standard PP30 and PP50 payment orders, choosing which of their accounts to use.

Online banking also offers foreign currency exchange between accounts, calculators for the bank’s credit and deposit products, and exchange rates list.

Online banking first appeared in the 1980s, and mobile banking was introduced a decade later.

The first bank to offer mobile banking services was Merita-Nordbanken in 1992. By 1999, 90 percent of the banks in Europe were already following in its footsteps.

Suzi Koteva-Stoimenova

Tr. by Monika Mihajlovska

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