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In Cash-Starved Greece, Plastic Casts Light Into Shadow Economy

Until last month, the vast majority of Greek pensioners didn’t even have a cash card, which led to the scenes in July of elderly Greeks lining up in despair outside banks to get their pensions when the banks were shut down.
Photographer: Konstantinos Tsakalidis/Bloomberg

Greece’s banking crisis is having at least one positive outcome, and it’s made of plastic.

In a country where cash is king and undeclared transactions still make up about a quarter of the economy, about 1 million debit cards have been issued by banks since the government closed lenders for three weeks and imposed controls on euro bills. Emergency measures that some officials warned might spur the black market are showing signs of doing the opposite.