Cyprus Mail

With banks shut, hard-pressed Greeks count the cost of change

Referendum campaign posters that reads "No" in Greek are seen as people line up at an ATM outside a National Bank branch in Athens

Eleni Katsamaki, who runs a fruit and vegetable stall at a market in the Athens suburb of Piraeus, is feeling one of the small, daily annoyances of the Greek bank shutdown particularly acutely. Nobody has any change.

“We definitely have an issue with coins,” she said near a stand full of tomatoes. “Everyone’s coming with the 20 euro notes they withdraw from the banks.”

With withdrawals from cash machines rationed to a maximum of 60 euros a day and the banks shut since Monday, supplies of coins and banknotes are dwindling fast.

The 60 euro daily limit has in many cases effectively dropped to 50 euros because supplies of 20 euro notes have increasingly dried up, leaving shops that sell small, daily items struggling to accept payment.

“Fortunately I had some change beforehand, but it’s about to run out,” said Katsamaki. “In a little while I might not be able to give any change. There’s a problem!”

The city centre of Athens, where large numbers of tourists come bringing in change, appears less affected. Retailers that accept card payments, which are allowed, also have less of a problem, noted Spyros Haritakis, who works at a petrol station.

“There is certainly less cash than in previous weeks. Fortunately here people pay by card, or in round sums with notes and the problem isn’t so serious,” he said.

“It’s mostly shops with small daily circulation items that are affected, even though even we have been sort of change lately,” he said.

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