Bulgaria Transitions from Paper to Plastic Food Vouchers

Bulgaria has embarked on a digitization journey by replacing traditional paper food vouchers with a plastic card, akin to a bank card, initiating this transformative move at the start of the year. This transition will involve a grace period until July, allowing issuance of both paper and electronic vouchers.

With a state-determined quota of BGN 1.6 billion, an increase of BGN 200 million from last year, the transition aims to modernize systems, benefitting over 700,000 employees across 20,000 businesses. Individuals will receive a maximum monthly allowance of BGN 200.

The plastic voucher card, resembling a bank card, will not permit cash withdrawals but will offer users the convenience of checking their balance and validity through phone or mobile applications, simplifying their shopping experiences.

Yanislav Stoychev, the financial director of a commercial chain, highlighted the positive impact on consumers, enabling hassle-free purchases without concerns about nominal values. Both paper and electronic vouchers remain exclusive for food purchases in restaurants and shops.

While digitization promises administrative relief and reduced transport costs for employers, challenges exist, particularly for small shops unequipped with the necessary technology. Terminal installation expenses and bank fees, up to 2% per transaction, concern merchants, potentially impacting their costs.

Tanya Obushtarova emphasized the need for expanded terminal networks, especially in smaller towns, where merchants are reluctant due to lower turnovers and increased expenses.

Negotiations between traders and the government seek legislative solutions to mitigate potential cost burdens and curb misuse of vouchers, addressing concerns about some small...

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