The popularity of the SZÉP Card has proven to be greater than it had been anticipated. According to the Ministry for National Economy, the electronic voucher card may already in this year generate extra demand worth ten billion forints for the domestic tourism industry. Employers transferred 10.5bn HUF to cover fringe benefits to electronic voucher cards in the first quarter. From 15 April every POS terminal of the banks which have joined the system will be compatible with SZÉP Cards.
The number of employers who opted for SZÉP Cards has been rising steadily and by now more than 11 000 employers have joined this form of fringe benefit service system (“cafeteria”). The number of cards issued by the OTP, MKB and the K&H Group is higher than 355 000 and contracts have been concluded with almost 15 000 service providers.
The SZÉP Card is a new element of the reformed domestic fringe benefit services system. It includes three subaccounts where employers can transfer as fringe benefits up to 450 000HUF for each employee, which amount can be entirely utilized for domestic accommodation. The Card is free of charge for both the employer and the employee and so is joining the system for service providers. The maximum rate of commission they are to pay for using the Card is only 1.5 percent. Thus the SZÉP Card is now the lowest cost electronic paying system in Hungary which can replace cash transfers. The Card is easy to use; it is utilizable via an on-line internet platform or by a call center assistant, but the POS terminals of financial institutions are naturally also accessible. The terminals of financial institutions which have issued the Cards will be interconnected from the middle of April, therefore -- provided services providers have concluded the necessary contracts with the issuers – SZÉP Cards will be utilizable at any one terminal of the banks which had joined the system.
According to data from the three issuers, in the first quarter employers transferred 10.5bn HUF as fringe benefits to the electronic voucher cards. The most popular subaccounts of the fringe benefit system are those for hot meals and accommodation. Employers have transferred until now 4.8bn HUF altogether to the hot meal subaccount with an annual limit of 150 000HUF each, whereas 4.4bn HUF have been received by the accommodation subaccount with an annual limit of 225 000HUF each. The annual limit at a recreational subaccount is 75 000HUF, where employers have so far transferred 1.4bn HUF.
The Ministry for National Economy expects that a substantial share of the amount paid to the recreational and hot meal subaccounts will also find its way to domestic accommodation providers, as the amounts received at these subaccounts and left unutilized are also allowed to be spent for accommodation costs.
(Ministry for National Economy)