Monday, 4 July 2022

Croatian Eurozone Accession: Filling ATMs With New Currency Challenging

July the 4th, 2022 - Croatian Eurozone accession is looming, with the date on which the kuna will be sent to the history books being marked out as the 1st of January, 2023. There are a lot of practical and logistical issues to now tackle, and filling the country's ATMs with euros instead of kuna is just one of them proving to be a challenge.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, rapidly approaching Croatian Eurozone accession requires very many adjustments. While there won't be much work in the conversion of cashless payments, cash payments bring a series of challenges for everyone - from people to banks, companies and shops, reports HRT.

Most of the total of Croatian 4,700 ATMs, which are of course all active during the winter months, will have to be adapted for euro banknotes in the very last weeks of December, making them unavailable for Croatian kuna withdrawals.

Filling ATMs with euro banknotes will be an extremely demanding job operationally speaking. In most ATMs, certain parts will have to be physically replaced.

"The whole process of adapting Croatian ATMs starts with the adaptation of the cassettes themselves, in which the banknotes come out, since the euro banknotes have different dimensions than the kuna banknotes have. As we have a lot of ATMs across the Republic of Croatia, this is going to be a rather long-term process where all the ATM cassettes should be adapted,'' explained Tihomir Mavricek, executive director of the Cash Sector of the Croatian National Bank (CNB).

The problem is that at most of Croatia's ATMs, the adjustment to euros means that they will not be available for the withdrawal of kuna for a certain number of days, and the uncomfortable timing comes in the form of it being just before the Christmas season where there are significantly increased levels of consumption. On top of that, not all ATMs will be ready for euros by the date of Croatian Eurozone accession, ie the 1st of January, 2023.

"During the month of December, we'll visit more than 60% of the ATMs maintained by our company in the field, and prepare them to work with the new currency. The first euros will be available to people for withdrawal at certain ATMs in Croatia as early as January the 1st, 2023, according to the criteria of regional coverage and the frequency of use of those ATMs, which are determined by the banks," the Payten company announced.

Not all ATMs are equal, however, and those within the OTP banka system can be remotely ''induced'' to pay out either kuna or euros.

"All of our ATMs will be in operation for withdrawing money every day during the month of December, and at the same time they'll be ready to pay out euros from January the 1st, 2023," OTP banka announced.

Despite intensive preparations, it will still be technically impossible to avoid days without interruption of withdrawals of kuna or euros at most ATMs as Croatian Eurozone accession gets closer, but the CNB has assured that everything related to this process must be published and made accessible to people on the banks' official websites.

"Even if we're in a situation in which not all ATMs are available for euro withdrawals, people don't need to worry about it, since during the first two weeks following Croatian Eurozone accession it will remain possible to pay for things in both kuna and euros in shops, while merchants are obliged to return the rest in euros, of course, wherever it's possible to do so," explained Mavricek.

While cash payments during the last weeks of December and the first weeks of January will be difficult for many people, POS systems and card payments should continue being carried out without any interruptions or issues.

For more on Croatian Eurozone accession and how it's going to affect daily life, make sure to keep up with our politics and lifestyle sections.

Monday, 18 October 2021

Around Half of Croatian ATMs Could be Removed from Use, Here's Why

October the 18th, 2021 - As many as half of all Croatian ATMs could end up being put out of use as a result of incoming regulations which involve the safety and security of ATM machines.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, there are very many Croatian ATMs, and it's always quite amusing to be strolling through an ancient street steeped in history and come across an ATM lodged in the wall. While perhaps not always that tasteful, they're certainly handy.

The Republic of Croatia has 6,000 ATMs, and half of them could be shut down and removed due to the introduction of additional regulations for the protection and security of ATMs, as was reported by HTV's Potrosacki kod (Spender's code). That's a very large expense indeed for banks should it occur.

They have already abolished Croatian ATMs for which they estimated that the cost of their maintenance is greater than the benefit they have from the amount of turnover and the number of customers they get. According to these new regulations, greater security of the banking network is necessary in order to reduce criminal actions taking place at ATMs.

Banks should therefore invest several thousand euros into ATM security, and as a result of that expensive move, some have announced the withdrawal of some Croatian ATMs from use entirely, especially those in rural areas which simply can't afford such a security undertake.

However, not everything is so bleak and the banks are asking the Ministry of the Interior (MUP) for a compromise solution regarding the security of Croatian ATMs, because they are now investing 80 to 100 million euros into their IT systems in order to convert the kuna into the euro, which is necessary due to Croatian Eurozone accession, which is edging ever closer now.

The Ministry of the Interior says that it is prescribed that ATMs are protected by an electrochemical protection system which permanently marks and destroys banknotes in an attempted violent burglary. ATMs protected by this system already must bear a prominent indication of that type of protection in a visible place so that all users are aware of it.

For more, make sure to check out our lifestyle section.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Rovinj Succeeds in Winning Case and Removing ATM from Old Town

For a while now, numerous historic Croatian cities have been fighting with no less than cash machines. The unsightly ATMs have been being placed in old towns and have caused quite the stir. Dubrovnik was one city with a battle on its hands, but it is far from the only one, and Rovinj has experienced a significant ''win''.

As Novac writes on the 19th of October, 2019, an ATM has been successfully removed from the facade of the House of Culture building in Rovinj, more specifically from the ground floor used by Konzum. It might seem like a small feat, but this successful ATM removal in the Istrian city of Rovinj is in actual fact quite impressive, as the ATM was installed in a window from which the view looks directly out at a cultural monument - Balbi's arch, otherwise, the busiest entrance and exit from the old town of Rovinj, writes Glas Istre.

The removal of ATMs is the result of the Decision on the municipal order of the City of Rovinj and the Directorate for the protection of cultural heritage of the Ministry of Culture concerning the general criteria for the installation of ATMs in protected historic centres in Croatia.

Otherwise, there are fifty such ATMs registered in the cultural and historical centre of Rovinj alone, and 39 of them have seen requests submitted for site approval, ie, for the proper permission to set them up.

The problem of "too many" ATMs in their cumbersome metal boxes has escalated this past tourist season not only because of their abundance, but also because of the locations in which they have been placed - from windows and doors, to facades and windows on various old buildings.

When it comes to ATMs on private property, and depending on the agreement between the property's owner and the owner of the ATM, the monthly "rent" for an ATM to be placed there was from two to ten thousand kuna.

The City of Rovinj was among the first on the coast to attempt to deal with all those who do not have a permit for the placement of an ATM, that is, explicit written approval from the city's municipal utility department and the consent of the conservator, to set it up. Therefore, the criteria by which an ATM permit can be obtained is clearly stated, and anyone not adhering to it will likely see their machines removed, as has been the case with this one.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Cash Machine Country: Why is ATM Business so Profitable in Croatia?

As Novac/Dora Koretic writes on the 2nd of July, 2019, there's nobody in Croatia who hasn't been slightly irritated that Croatia has become known as ''ATM country" over recent days. Owing to that, many are calling for a boycott of the owners of the spaces these ugly cash machines are placed in. Dubrovnik being one of the loudest.

Residents' protests are being organised, liberal capitalists are being cursed, mayors and other people from city administrations are being called on, and the dreaded cash machines are wanted out of Croatia's many historical town and city centres.

Far from defending this proverbial plague that has seen many residents of Croatia's top tourist destinations rise up on their feet, but it is unbelievable that virtually nobody is asking the fundamental question: why is this all happening here in Croatia, and not over in Germany or Sweden? Just how and why has Croatia managed to gain the title of ''ATM country'' ahead of the far more developed countries of Western Europe?

The answer, like almost everything in life, is right in front of our noses. Jutarnji List published a story on the latest publicly available statistics from the Croatian National Bank (HNB), the one for 2017, and found numbers and data that are very ''plastic'' in explaining the general flood of ATMs into Croatia.

Simply put, Croatia is a country in which business entities continue to insist on "cash", the vast majority of them don't allow the banks and all of their modern devices, such as POS machines, to enter their premises where they sell their goods or services. Croatia just loves cash, and with that came a window of opportunity for the cash machine world.

According to the statistics of the Croatian National Bank, which were published in June last year, only 32,003 business entities were registered in Croatia in 2017 which provided a POS payment option, while 118,621 POS devices were available in the country, according to the central bank's data.

This figure seemed a bit too small for Novac, and they sent an additional query to the Croatian National Bank asking them to explain whether they included in this number of the 32,000 aforementioned business entities in hospitality, and they quickly sent back a verified answer, pointing out that the above figure applies to all businesses, regardless of what kind of business they're engaged in.

To make things worse, all companies, including very large ones such as Konzum, Lidl, Kaufland, Tommy, and others, are included in this surprisingly small number, which means that a good part of the total of 118,000 POS devices are on self-service appliances in stores.

Additionally, the figure is incredible when compared to the total number of active business entities operating in Croatia.

According to the Financial Agency's data, 158,060 active business entities were recorded in Croatia in 2018, which means, if we divide this number with the above-mentioned POS device statistics, that the POS payment option today is offered to customers by only every fifth business entity, which is a rather small figure indeed.

Given that consumers in Croatia actually have a narrower number of entities in which services can be paid for by card, it's no surprise that there is a shocking comparison between the cash rate in relation to credit card payment and various other types of card payments.

While most of Croatia is arguing about ATMs and where they're placed, Novac asked several leaders of restaurant and hospitality associations to explain just why Croatia seems to hate card payments, especially given the fact that everyone who travels outside the country knows that in most European cities and towns, cards are frequently used to pay in cafes and bars, and in some countries it's even considered to be a little weird to have customers attempting to pay for things with large banknotes.

Franz Letica, chairman of a hospitality association in Zagreb, responded, pointing out the fact that today, every high quality hospitality facility in Croatia is obliged to receive card payments as well as notes, and that he has doubts about the accuracy of the numbers and data collected from the Croatian National Bank. Others agree with him.

Make sure to follow our dedicated business page for much more.