Rounding to the nearest five cents will be obligatory for cash payments
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    Rounding to the nearest five cents will be obligatory for cash payments

    © Belga
    © Belga

    On Friday, the Minister’s council approved a proposal for a royal decree that would make rounding the amount of all cash payments up or down to the nearest 5 centimes obligatory. This was announced by the Vice-Prime Minister and the Economy minister, who are the ones behind the project. 

    Retailers have had the possibility to round the total amount the consumer owes up or down since 2014. This was not obligatory and only possible with cash payments, the minister said. 

    Retailers requested that the laws be made more flexible in 2015. Rounding up or down was allowed for all payments made with both the retailer and consumer physically present, no matter the method of payment (cash or electronic payment). Despite the laws being made more flexible, very few retailers actually do round the amount owed up or down. According to an SNI inquiry, only three retailers in ten have ever rounded up or down when a consumer has paid. 

    With the support of retailer organisations Comeos, Unizo and UCM, the government has decided to make rounding the amount owed up or down obligatory for cash payments: one and two cents are rounded down to zero, three and four cents are rounded up to five cents, six and seven cents are rounded down to five cents, eight and nine cents are rounded up to ten. The rounding up or down is always done on the total amount owed, but the rounded and non-rounded amounts must both be on the receipt. On average the consumer should still pay the same. 

    Obligatory rounding up or down will come into effect on the 1st of December 2019. There will be an information campaign and the Price Observatory will keep an eye on the consequences. There will be no change for electronic payments: retailers will be able to choose whether to round to the nearest five cents, as they can now, but it will not be not obligatory.

    Sarah Johansson 
    The Brussels Times