The key to the bank card, an open secret in Venezuela

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identification card? Signal? These are two questions that must be answered out loud in Venezuela if you buy a product and pay with a card, from a simple coffee or slice of bread to a television, a piece of clothing or a meal in a restaurant.

This security key, with which the cards are linked, is in the public domain in the country, for the purpose of preventing anyone other than the owner from making fraudulent use of them, where, in addition, the identity document number is provided., an everyday Which makes the user defenseless against any scam or theft attempt.

The vendors’ rationale for requesting a personal identification number (PIN) is that it should be typed in slowly to prevent the dataphone from being damaged and rendered unusable, they believe that their customers will do so adequately. Don’t do it.

This risky formula has become such a daily practice that no one even thinks about giving their information to a collector anywhere and in front of people waiting in line to cancel their purchases, as if it is something normal and The request must be legal.

This system, now seamless, only breaks down when a foreigner arrives in a country and a stranger requests such private and personal information. This happens when, unusually, the seller reluctantly allows the customer to enter his password.

A risk that was born with the crisis

More than five years ago, when cash shortages began to occur due to the extreme devaluation of the local currency – the bolivar – the bill one carried in one’s pocket was not even enough to buy a bottle of water, so Its use as a card became widespread even for the most minor purchases.

This occurred when dataphones repeatedly broke down, which, in many cases, prevented the merchant from being able to continue selling, something that was compounded by a shortage of parts to repair the equipment, or a lack of equipment to be replaced. Due to this also became a problem. , For a new one. The crisis had come to a halt and complicated everything.

Without cash and without ‘points’ – as payment terminals are known in Venezuela – merchants lost many sales and customers were left without the product they needed, despite it being available in the establishment.

Although less frequently, it continues to occur in various businesses, especially in the interior of the country, where barter systems still exist as payment for products.

Inevitable arrival of currencies

As time passed, the chaos created by the bolivar shortage and dataphone problems forced the government to turn a blind eye to the increasing circulation of currencies, especially the US currency, which President Nicolás Maduro called the “criminal dollar”. .

But it was a solution within the reach of very few and was not free of complications that multiplied as more foreign currency entered the country, and despite Maduro’s protests, the dollar was de facto used to set prices. Was established as a payment and reference system. For currency.

So many concessions had to be made so that the country would not sink completely, so much so that the government began setting prices in dollars, starting with fuel delivered at state gas stations, which in 2020 totaled almost ‘less than’ happened. Free’. At 50 cents per litre.

The currency gained so much popularity that Maduro assumed he could not stop the avalanche, and even allowed Venezuelan banks to open accounts in dollars, although users who could afford it would Prefer to keep their savings in institutions abroad, they can carry out any type of operation online, very limited in local.

Despite the problems caused by paying in foreign currency, since establishments usually do not have money to give change and until the total value of the delivered bill is met, purchases must be completed with more products. , the dollar – as well as other currencies, such as the euro, which circulates to a lesser extent – ​​has saved thousands of businesses from bankruptcy.

However, purchases become more expensive when one pays in dollars because, beginning in 2022, the government instituted the Large Financial Transaction Tax (IGTF), which will tax the price of any product paid for in the currency at $3. %, no matter how small its value.

The name of the tax can be confusing, as it refers to ‘large transactions’, but it applies to one-dollar candy the same way it applies to a $100, 500 or $5,000 product. optional? Make the secret key public. efe

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