Businesses have been reporting difficulty in processing some of the government’s digital vouchers for payment, with a number of outlets turning clients away and taking only the printed versions, the CEO of the Malta Chamber of SMEs has said.
Abigail Mamo said some shops were not managing to get all digital vouchers they had accepted verified, which was resulting in a discrepancy in sales.
“Some businesses find that at the end of the day a number of vouchers have not been reconciled,” Mamo said.
All residents aged over 16 are entitled to vouchers worth €100 under a second government scheme aimed at helping the economy recover from the ravages of COVID-19.
Of that amount, €60 (the red vouchers) can be spent in restaurants and tourist establishments and €40 (the blue vouchers) in retail and beauty outlets.
In the first round of vouchers last summer, everyone received them in the mail. But this time they were given the option of downloading them through smartphones. Close to 120,000 people did so before the June 4 deadline.
A total of 25,000 businesses are eligible to receive the vouchers from consumers as payment.
Mamo said a number of them – mainly retail outlets accepting the blue vouchers – have sent in reports to the chamber about mishaps that occur when trying to scan and accept the vouchers.
“Apart from businesses noticing that the verification system is complicated and lengthy, others have seen that after a day of sales, some vouchers have not been accepted and the verification process was not completed,” she said.
“There seems to be a slight glitch in the system for some businesses when verifying the vouchers.”
In contrast, the printed voucher is retained by businesses and used as proof of the transaction. For this reason, some business prefer to take only the printed version.
“We have reported these complaints to the ministry. They tell us that the system is working fine, but businesses are still coming up with issues,” Mamo said.
She said she had visited shops and had come across cashiers explaining to customers how complicated the system was.
“One client said a shop had called her because the voucher she used had not passed through the verification process. They asked her politely to go back to the shop to process it again.”
An IT expert from the chamber said businesses faced problems when preparing to accept the digital vouchers.
“Some businesses had to invest in buying mobile phones for their employees to scan the vouchers, as they did not want to use their personal phones,” he said.
Apart from this expense, businesses owning more than one outlet face another kind of difficulty.
“When businesses register outlets, owners must put in an email address,” he explained.
“This means that if a customer comes in with a digital voucher, the confirmation email goes to the owner and not the person at the shop. This makes it complicated as employees need to wait for their boss to confirm the transfer and the voucher to be accepted,” he said.
This, he added, can slow down the entire process.
‘No software issue’
A spokesperson for the Economy Ministry said that any businesses asking for assistance on their voucher business account were being given the necessary support.
“There is no software issue. Businesses have been assisted on site, at their own outlets, while the helpline 8007 4950 is open daily from 8am to 10pm for any assistance required,” she said.
On several occasions and business account activation guides delivered before June 7, she added, it was emphasised that businesses must verify their credit cards, as some cards might have expired.
“Businesses were also encouraged to train their staff in using the app to scan vouchers, by reading the same voucher business activation guide provided,” she said.
Businesses are reminded to ensure that they fully complete the voucher scanning procedure and not stop halfway. The transaction will be fully processed only when the app shows ‘transaction complete’ with a green ‘okay’ sign.
“Apart from this, the system takes care of notifying a business when there is an issue with that account that requires attention,” the spokesperson said.
“An email is sent out automatically to that business with instructions to help them take the necessary action.”
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