Customs, E-Commerce, Newsroom, VAT | 24. February 2023

Germany bids for EU money laundering authority

Blockchain regulation, online car trading and a raid on sales tax fraud – the latest developments in e-commerce: a new study looks at the changing consumer behaviour of Germans as Germany bids to become an EU money laundering authority. eBay reports a whopping turnover for the fourth quarter of 2022, while the Otto Group reports online declines. Amazon is cutting salaries by up to 50 per cent, and Zalando is introducing a new fee structure for its marketplace. Another study indicates that the dissolution of the EU would have a massive impact on the German GDP. by

Germany has officially applied for the seat of the European money laundering authority, Amla (Anti Money Laundering Authority). Among others, Frankfurt am Main is mentioned as a possible location, reports Der Spiegel. So far, Paris, Vienna, Madrid, Luxembourg, and Vilnius have also expressed interest, but the official application process has not yet begun. The Federal Ministry of Finance stressed that the application underlines the German government’s claim to give national, European and international priority to the fight against money laundering. However, Germany itself has been criticised in the fight against money laundering. The Wirecard scandal has led to accusations against national financial supervisory authorities. Investigations by the international Financial Action Taskforce have repeatedly confirmed that the Federal Republic of Germany has considerable deficits in the fight against money laundering.

EU launches blockchain sandbox

The European Commission has launched the Blockchain Sandbox, a collaborative initiative to explore the use of blockchain technology, reports fintechfutures. The project, supported by the Digital Europe programme, aims to reduce legal uncertainty and foster dialogue between innovators and regulators. The Sandbox will run from 2023 to 2026 and support 20 projects per year. It will be run by a consortium led by Bird & Bird and its consultancy Oxygy. The initiative is expected to have wider benefits beyond financial services, with potential applications in anti-counterfeiting and ID verification.

Study: Strong changes in German consumer behaviour

A study by Retail Economics, commissioned by leading e-commerce delivery technology providers Metapack and Packlink, found that consumer behaviour in German online retail will change dramatically in 2023. Despite concerns about the social and economic challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, German online retailers plan to increase their sales this year. 48 percent of large and 52 percent of small retailers have growth plans. Retailers in the furniture and DIY, clothing, household goods and health and care sectors are particularly optimistic.

Almost three out of four Germans (70 percent) say they will change their buying habits in 2023. German shoppers were divided into four types, a large proportion of which are considered “need shoppers” and “procrastinators”. Retailers want to compensate for the declining volume with higher prices by directly raising product prices, increasing delivery costs or raising the cost of returns. The study is based on surveys of around 1,000 German consumers and over 730 retailers.

Online car trade gains importance in 2023

The future of car sales lies in online retailing, according to the findings of the third Online Car Sales study series by management and IT consultancy MHP. End customers and car dealers were surveyed on the topic of online and offline car sales to identify customer requirements and dealer needs and to uncover changes compared to the last study. The results indicate that 22 percent of respondents now buy their cars online, compared to 9 percent in 2020. In addition, 85 percent of dealers plan to invest more in online car sales in the next two years. However, the possibilities of online sales solutions are still largely unknown among dealers. Supply bottlenecks will also keep the seller’s market in place in the coming years. Direct purchase is increasingly losing importance, while leasing, subscription, and financing models are gaining in popularity. The study thus shows important trends that are significant for the strategic planning of future sales models in the car trade.

Non-EU exports rise slightly

German exports to non-EU countries rose by 0.2% in January 2023 compared to the previous month, according to the Federal Statistical Office. Adjusted for calendar and seasonal effects, goods worth 57.3 billion euros were exported. Compared to the previous year, exports rose by 6.6%, but fell by 9.6% in terms of volume. The United States remains the most important trading partner for German exporters, with a value of 12 billion euros, an increase of 20.8% over the previous year. Exports to Russia fell by 57.5% and are worth 0.9 billion euros.

Study: EU dissolution would reduce German GDP by 5.2%

study by the Ifo Institute on behalf of EconPol Europe has examined the effects of a dissolution of the European Union on the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in various member states. The study concludes that repealing the EU would lead to losses in all member states. In Germany, GDP per capita would fall by 5.2 per cent. If transfer payments between member states are also considered, the losses for transfer recipients such as Hungary, Lithuania, and Bulgaria would be almost twice as high as for net payers such as Germany and Sweden. Dissolving the Single Market would mean a loss of 3.6 per cent for Germany, and a dissolution of the Customs Union would have less impact in comparison. Repealing the Eurozone would have adverse effects for all member states, but they would only be significant for Luxembourg and Germany.

Otto Group’s online sales in Germany fall


© Otto

The Otto Group has published its business results for 2022/23. E-commerce revenue in Germany fell by around 8 per cent to 7.5 billion euros, while revenue abroad rose by 8 per cent to 4.6 billion euros. The number of active Otto Group customers rose by almost 2 per cent. The challenging economic context, characterised by the Ukraine war, inflation and negative consumer sentiment, has led to a decline in earnings. The company expects low single-digit growth in e-commerce for the next financial year and plans to adjust strategically necessary investments. The Otto Group has also pushed ahead with innovation topics such as digital product development and live shopping platforms.

eBay reports fourth quarter 2022 revenue of $2.5bn

© eBay

eBay announced its financial results for the fourth quarter of 2022 on 22 February 2023. According to the report, the trading volume of eBay’s marketplace business was 18.2 billion US dollars, while revenue was 2.5 billion US dollars. Most notably, international business outside the US accounted for 51% of sales. The number of active buyers on the platform worldwide is 135 million. In the fourth quarter of 2022, 35 million US dollars were donated to charity. These figures prove that eBay will remain a leader in online commerce in 2023.

Amazon cuts salaries by up to 50 per cent

The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon employees will receive up to 50 per cent less pay in 2023 due to the company’s falling stock price. Salaries depend heavily on stock awards, making them vulnerable to price fluctuations. Sources said wages this year would be 15 to 50 per cent below estimates, as the share price has fallen 35 per cent. Due to a weakening economy, the company announced it would lay off 18,000 employees, the largest job cut ever. Amazon’s lay-offs and falling share price reflect the overall economic slowdown and slower growth in its retail business.

New fee structure on Zalando marketplace

© Zalando

From 1 July, retailers selling via Connected Retail or the Partner Programme on Zalando will have to pay a monthly basic fee of EUR 40. This is reported by Until now, Zalando only charged a sales commission for successful sales. The commission model will also be adjusted and partly increased. Merchants who offer their products exclusively on the platform will have to pay a higher commission in future. The changes may affect retailers’ margins, and it is recommended to review the business model of Zalando. The new conditions will apply from 1 April 2023.

Raid in eight countries for EUR 25 million VAT fraud

The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) has launched a large-scale operation against a Spanish criminal organisation alleged to have committed a massive €25 million VAT fraud, arresting 17 people in eight countries. The suspects allegedly used shell companies in various countries to evade VAT, resulting in huge illegal profits. One of the main suspects was also arrested in Italy and is considered a ringleader in another investigation. The illicit profits were laundered and reinvested in high-value real estate in various countries. Eurojust, Europol and several national law enforcement agencies also supported the operation.

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