Capital Control Cuts Off Greek Access to iTunes, iCloud, and PayPal

By Kiona Smith-Strickland on at

Imagine trying to buy a song on iTunes, but finding your credit card payment blocked. You can’t pay your cloud storage subscription, either, even though you have the money. Apple just won’t accept your card, and you’re about to lose most of your files.

That’s the situation many people in Greece are waking up to this week in the wake of the country’s new capital control laws. Technically, Greek lawmakers passed the capital control laws to stop people from evacuating all their money to overseas bank accounts and draining cash from the country’s struggling economy, but the laws also prevent everyday consumers from making even the smallest credit payments to foreign companies, including Apple, PayPal, and other staples of online life.

Most Greek customers have the money, but service providers can’t legally accept their payments, so they can only watch helplessly as their cloud storage subscriptions expire. So far, Apple hasn’t said whether it will cut Greek iCloud users any slack. Boomberg News said it’s Athens-based staff had already received a notice that their 20GB iCloud subscription would be cut to 5GB because their monthly payment couldn’t go through.

“It’s just that no one who created these services foresaw a world where developed countries would have restrictions on the use of credit cards for foreign payments,” wrote BuzzFeed News UK deputy editor Jim Waterson. The online economy is international, and most of its participants take that for granted - until the system grinds to a halt as it has in Greece, leaving both consumers and service providers at a loss.

And the capital control laws aren’t just hurting online payments. The infrastructure that processes payments at checkout terminals in brick-and-mortar stores is also essentially international, so Greek citizens travelling overseas could normally use their credit cards at payment terminals anywhere. But suddenly, they can’t, which means that travel outside of Greece is pretty much out of the question.

It’s not clear what the economic impact of Greece’s capital control laws will be, but the average Greek consumer is in for a stressful time.

[Bloomberg, Buzzfeed]

Top image: Wikimedia Commons