Meal vouchers: turmoil around the unilateral raising of the ceiling from 19 to 25 euros

Open ! Eat, le nouveau venu qui veut révolutionner le modèle historique des titres-restaurant

Posted Oct 3, 2022 1:47 PM

The daily ceiling for restaurant vouchers increased from 19 to 25 euros on October 1, a measure demanded during the parliamentary debate on purchasing power. But if the terms change to make the use of these means of payment, half of which are financed by companies, more flexible, it is not really additional purchasing power for the employee who will simply be able to spend his securities more quickly.

And precisely the National Commission for Restaurant Vouchers, which brings together unions, employers, restaurateurs and similar traders, issuers of vouchers, says it is very worried. She denounces a decision by Bercy taken without consultation, because this new ceiling applies indiscriminately to small businesses as well as to large retailers. However, the higher the ceiling, the more the consumer prefers purchases in supermarkets to the detriment of convenience stores.

Plea for a differentiated fund

The CNTR therefore wants this increase to apply only to restaurants and food businesses. She recalls that according to the law, “the meal voucher must allow the employee to have a daily meal”. In his eyes, an undifferentiated ceiling poses a threat to the system itself, encouraging excesses: extension to food products not intended for the employee’s meal, or even to non-food items…

At the end of the first confinement in 2020, the ceiling had already been doubled, from 19 to 38 euros, and its use extended to weekends and public holidays to support restaurateurs hit by the pandemic, an initiative welcomed by the reverse by the CNTR. On July 1, we had returned to 19 euros per day, to be spent on weekdays only.

An active 50-year-old

The restaurant voucher, which is celebrating its 55th anniversary, is offered by 140,000 public and private employers to 5 million employees who use them in 220,000 restaurants and shops, including 9,700 supermarkets.

Four historical players, Edenred (Ticket Restaurant), Groupe Up (Chèque Déjeuner), Sodexo (Pass Restaurant) and Natixis (Apetiz) of the BPCE group, have long shared this business volume of 7.5 billion euros per year. . They are remunerated on the employer side by a percentage inversely proportional to the value of the securities issued (from 3% for VSEs to 0.5% for groups), and on the merchant side, by a commission on the amount of the transaction.

For these operators, it therefore matters little whether the expenditure is more or less divided. Their core target remains the many small traders and restaurants from whom they charge 4.5% commission compared to 2.2% for supermarkets, but they also appreciate that their titles are accepted by as many brands as possible to provide them with better liquidity.

Disruptive companies

Recently, young shoots have appeared that are shaking up the codes. This is the case of Swile, a French unicorn specializing in dematerialized employee benefits (smart card or smartphone application) created in 2017. It entered into exclusive negotiations to acquire Bimpli (formerly Apetiz), a subsidiary of the BPCE group, which is called upon to become its largest shareholder (22%).

Open! Eat, founded in 2020 by the ex-CEO of Groupe Up, Catherine Coupet, is revolutionizing the model even more: the employee uses their usual bank card: a smartphone application detects whether their purchase is eligible for meal vouchers unless they opts for an Open Banking solution which will reimburse their bank account directly. Advantages: the employee no longer loses the hundreds of euros accumulated dormant on his restaurant card. The employer no longer has to make monthly deductions at source on the part of the securities payable by his employee (a cash advance from which the issuer has benefited so far). The merchant with a special terminal sees his commission divided by three.


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