To date, customers at the post office can only pay for products and services using the Postcard that comes with having a post office account, or in cash.
But now the post office is starting a 15 million franc pilot project to roll out debit card services.
From Friday the post office in Zollikofen in the canton of Bern and Baden in the canton of Aargau will be equipped to take Maestro and Visa debit cards as part of a month-long testing period, the Tages Anzeiger newspaper reported on Thursday.
The company will then start to change the card machines in other branches over a period of three months, with every post office in the country accepting debit cards from December, Swiss Post spokesman Olivier Flüeler confirmed to The Local.
But there’s a catch.
Debit card payments will only be possible on postal services and products sold in post offices, but will not be available for paying bills, he said.
The restriction is to prevent money laundering, as it’s harder for the post office to determine the origin of money if cards are used.
It would be “far too complicated” for Swiss Post to security check someone who wants to pay a large sum with a card from another bank, Flüeler told The Local.
Credit cards will also remain banned, due to their higher charges.
If everyone used their credit card “It would cost Swiss Post millions”, he said, adding that the company is already running a deficit due to the evolution in communication in the past decade.
The post office deals with 67 percent fewer letters and 47 percent fewer parcels than in 2000, he said, partly due to people’s preference to communicate by email and social media.
Instead of paying the “incredible increase in costs” of credit card charges, the company would rather invest that money in products and services for customers than give it to a third party, he said.
But the move has not impressed some.
Speaking to Tages Anzeiger, Sara Stalder of the Foundation for Consumer Protection (SKS) said the post office will only show itself to be customer-orientated when it accepts all bank cards.