Hundreds and eventually thousands of shops are expected to sign on to the cashback programme which Cyprus Banking Association spokesman Andreas Kostouris on Wednesday said will become widespread across all types of businesses.

Universally used in states such as the UK, cashback is where a customer pays by debit card and asks for a further amount to be charged – up to a maximum of €100 – with the added amount then handed over in cash.

Kostouris said card holders have the option to get cash from a wide array of businesses.

“It’s an improvement which would help everyone involved,” he said, explaining that business will get more customers and will reduce their own banking time by easing the need to deposit cash at the bank.

He reiterated that there would be no charge for either the customer or the business, in comments made to state broadcaster CyBC.

Kostouris said it will be up to the businesses to sign up to the cashback programme, adding that the infrastructure is already in place since all such shops are now required by law to provide card payment options

“If they choose to provide such a service then they’ll have to speak with the card payment system which they use,” he said, further adding that: “As we’ve discussed between the banks, this will particularly be of use for the elderly… they’ll be able to secure cash from kiosks, bakeries and so on.”

The Cyprus Mail previously reported that discussions are underway with JCC card payment system to offer cashbacks throughout a wide array of businesses and shops, from tavernas, to kiosks and petrol stations – points of daily interaction, therefore reducing the need for an ATM.

Kostouris said the programme is already in place but was asked why it’s only now making the news, and admitted he only really found out about it recently as well.

“By luck a few months ago I saw the customer ahead of me using it [cashback], yes – yes, it exists, but perhaps not that many businesses are offering it, yet,” Kostouris said.

He added that in the next few months he expects it to become widespread.

Concerns over easy access to cash have become more common as branch closures across the world are speeding up amid a digital transition of bank services.