Bank card commissions and limits suspended as government seeks to ‘discourage use of cash’

Sweeping new policies brought in today by the Council of Ministers include the suspension of commissions paid by businesses for the use of payment terminals, as well as limits on the value of transactions.

The objective, explains dinheirovivo, is to avoid the use of notes and coins which the World Health Organisation has warned could be one of the ways the new coronavirus is spread.

The decree coming out of today’s meeting “establishes the suspension of commissions on payment transactions and that beneficiaries who provide automatic payment terminals cannot refuse or limit the acceptance of cards for payment of any goods or services, regardless of the value of the transaction”.

Says DV, some banks have already announced measures in this regard – including the suspension of monthly payments on TAP (automatic payment terminal) equipment, and commissions on payment apps like MBway. 

But today’s decision “goes further, and applies to everything”, says the online.

“From today the Bank of Portugal allows consumers to make payments up to 50 euros with contactless cards, without introducing the PIN code. The previous limit was 20 euros, but the central bank has decided to increase the amount bearing in mind the evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic, to encourage contactless payments”.

The convoluted debate about whether money is indeed helping to spread the virus began after Chinese banks reportedly started sterilizing used currency using ultraviolet light and heat before handing it back to customers.

The WHO has never explicitly linked currency to the virus, but an official source did tell the Telegraph early in March: “We would advise people to wash their hands after handling banknotes and avoid touching their face.”

The Telegraph added that the agency said contactless payments ‘reduced the risk of transmission’.

Again earlier this month, the United States’ based Center for Disease Control and Prevention told US Today that it “may” be possible that a person can get coronavirus by touching an object that has the virus on it. “But only if it then gets into their mouth or nose”.

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