Our ongoing series moves to Switzerland, the country that is synonymous with all things banking.
Our ongoing series moves to Switzerland, the country that is synonymous with banking but less enthusiastic about credit cards.
Credit card growth steady, but not huge
The credit card market has increased gradually over the last five years at a rate of 34 percent. Currently, there are only 4.2 million credit cards in circulation, compared to 7.3 million debit cards (Euromonitor International).
Spending habits changing
According to debt advisors, the Swiss are becoming less frugal due to credit cards. They attribute the change to an increase in leisure time, more people struggling to make ends meet and intensified marketing by credit card companies (Swiss News).
No financial worries
The Swiss put US$5.8 million on their credit cards last year, but experts don’t predict an increase in defaults. They cite low household debt levels and interest rates being capped at 15 percent as a reason the Swiss are at ease (Swisster).
Cards and crime
New gadget to protect your identity
Corn\xe8r Bank of Switzerland was one of the first banks in the world to try Verified by Visa — a new credit card that generates a different password each time it is used (Visa Europe). (Visa Europe).
Low occurrence of fraud
Switzerland is one of 12 countries in the world with the lowest amount of credit card fraud and identity theft. (Fraudlabs).
Varying tax laws
Officials in Switzerland steer clear of helping foreign nations trying to track down tax evaders who use Swiss banks — seeing evasion as a fine-worthy but not jailable offense. But when American financial adviser Bradley Birkenfeld told his clients to use Swiss credit cards to avoid tracking by the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. authorizes stepped in and arrested all parties involved (New York Times).
Official tourism site
– My Switzerland
Location: Central Europe, east of France and north of Italy (map)
Population: 7.5 million (July 2008)
Internet users: 5.2 million (June 2008 estimate)
Area: 15,942 sq. miles (about twice the size of New Jersey)
GDP: US$303 billion (2007 estimate)
Currency: Swiss franc (CHF)
Key exports: US$200 billion of machinery, chemicals, metals, watches and agricultural products
Key imports: US$187 billion of machinery, vehicles, metals, agricultural products and textiles