- More and more banks are introducing Visa and Mastercard debit cards as standard products.
- Consumers are now reporting problems with the cards not being accepted in shops and hotels, with bank account cash withdrawal via shops, and when used abroad.
- vzbv calls for the introduction of the digital euro as an independent payment method.
Consumers have reported a wide range of issues regarding the acceptance of the new Visa and Mastercard debit cards. Following an enquiry, debit card users submitted 1,745 problems to the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband – vzbv). Banks recently introduced the payment card as a standard account product.
“Consumers have reported a number of problems to us,” says Ramona Pop, Executive Director of vzbv. “They claim that cards are not being accepted in shops in Germany, at hotels, abroad, or for cash withdrawal services in shops.”
Debit card users likewise described acceptance issues at local authorities, at clinics, in online shops or for TÜV mandatory vehicle inspections. Customers also criticised the lack of certain features such as age verification, compatibility with the ChipTAN method, or as a key to access cash machine rooms at banks.
In vzbv’s view the described problems are also partially due to the poor or insufficient information provided by the issuing banks. This leads to consumers expecting functions that the cards do not offer.
“Consumers reported problems that completely contradict the banks’ lofty promises that the Visa or Mastercard debit cards combine the functions of a giro and credit card,” says Pop.
In 29 per cent of the submitted reports, respondents had no card other than the criticised debit card. “In these cases the consumers have to rely on carrying cash, so that they always have a safe and practical way to pay just in case,” explains Pop.
vzbv recommends the introduction of a digital euro in order to ensure independent and reliable access to digital payment transactions for consumers. “The card chaos clearly shows that, in the end, the consumers are the ones who suffer when we make ourselves dependent on just a few commercial providers,” says Pop. She believes this is why it is time for a European solution. “It would be possible to use the digital euro for payment almost anywhere in the Eurozone.”
Over the last years, more and more banks have introduced the Visa and Mastercard debit cards as their top of wallet product. In the first half of 2023, the numbers of complaints about payment cards submitted to consumer organisations significantly increased in comparison to the same period of the previous year.
vzbv therefore asked consumers on its website to report problems via an online form. A total of 1,853 reports were received from 2 February to 17 July 2023. 94 per cent of the reports involved new debit cards (1,745 reports), four per cent the Girocard, and one per cent credit cards. The Deutsche Kreditbank (53 per cent), Santander (19 per cent), Targobank (8 per cent), ING (7 per cent) and comdirect (7 per cent) were the five most frequently named providers.
The percentages quoted in the text only reflect the distribution among the received reports. It is not possible to derive conclusions regarding frequency in the general population.