Almost everyone knows them, many have them: the giro card, often also known as an EC card.

Whether in a restaurant, in the supermarket or in the cinema, pull out quickly and it's already paid.

There are over 100 million giro cards across the country, more than residents.

But just about this oh so popular card, a discussion was started that goes so far that some even speak of the end of the giro card.

Sarah Huemer

Editor in the "Value" department of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper.

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The debate was triggered by an announcement by the American group Mastercard, one of the most important providers of giro cards.

He announced some time ago that he would discontinue the Maestro function.

That sounds like a technical subtlety, but it has far-reaching consequences.

Maestro, known for the logo with the red and blue dots, ensures that the giro card also works abroad.

In the beach bar in Italy, in the ski hut in Austria, in the city hotel in Paris.

From July 2023, however, no new cards with a Maestro function will be issued.

So the end is near.

Since this announcement, some questions have arisen: What's next?

How do you fill the void left by Maestro?

And why is Mastercard doing this at all?

Supposedly for the sake of the customer

Mastercard says a lot has changed over the past few decades.

Shopping is now more digital, and the current giro card has a major disadvantage: it is difficult to use it to pay for online shops.

Now they want to adapt to the times, it says at Mastercard.

Maestro, that's no longer necessary.

Instead, there is now a new card with more functions, the so-called Mastercard debit card.

Officially, Mastercard says it does this for the sake of the customer.

Professor Jürgen Moormann, who researches payment transactions at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, sees other reasons why Mastercard will soon be hiring Maestro.

First: “Around half of all Maestro transactions are in Germany.

Worldwide, on the other hand, Maestro accounts for only a fraction of transactions.

It is difficult and expensive for Mastercard to continue this old system.” It is easier to use a single process for everyone, a process that is already used with the credit card and now also with the Mastercard debit card.

Incidentally, Mastercard is not alone in this approach.

Competitor Visa takes a similar approach.

He's promoting a new card, the Visa debit card.

And Visa also has an equivalent to Maestro that may be phased out soon: VPay.

Officially, Visa has not yet confirmed this, but experts rumor that VPay is also a discontinued model.

Firmly anchored in everyday life

Secondly, the card providers are dealing with another, perhaps even more important aspect with this change, says Jürgen Moormann: "They want to increase their market share in Germany." Because with the current giro card, only foreign payments are made via Maestro and VPay.

Domestically, the German payment system Girocard is responsible for ensuring that transactions, for example when shopping in the supermarket, work.

In theory, Mastercard or Visa could replace this system if one of their standard card systems were accepted in every supermarket, bar and small retailer.

They are already relatively widespread - namely everywhere where you can also pay with a Visa and Mastercard credit card.

Nevertheless, according to the EHI Retail Institute research institute, there are still around 250,000 acceptance points that only use the Girocard system.

This is mainly due to the fact that retailers and restaurateurs pay fewer fees for it than for Mastercard and Visa.

For your customers, this means: You can only pay there if your card runs via Girocard.