Vatican: The Bank of Italy Blocks Bankcard Payments

Source: FSSPX News

The Bank of Italy has decided to forbid all bankcard payments within the State of Vatican City, revealed the Italian press on January 3, 2013. This decision, effective on January 1st, was motivated by the absence of authorization from the central Italian Bank to the Deutsche Bank Italia, subject to Italian law and the provider of the bankcard terminals present on Vatican territory. Consequently, tourists will now have to pay their entry into the Vatican Museums in cash, and no electronic operations will be made at any sales sites (supermarket, pharmacy, gas station...) in Vatican City, except for checks and bankcards distributed directly by the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), the Vatican’s bank institution.

The Deutsche Bank Italia only asked for the authorization necessary for the activation of the electronic terminals during the year 2012. As the Bank of Italy dismissed this request, the machines had to be deactivated. This affair is a new pitfall on the Holy See’s way towards financial transparency and conformity to the international criteria in the battle against money laundering. Indeed, the Bank of Italy decided to block bankcard payments after discovering that in one year 40 million euros passed through one single account of the Institute for the Works of Religion, via different electronic terminals in the Vatican.

René Brülhart, director of the Financial Information Authority (AIF) of the Holy See, expressed his “surprise” on January 13, especially considering that the Holy See’s efforts in fighting against money laundering had been praised by Moneyval, the European organization in charge of evaluating the anti-laundering systems of the countries who are members. The director of the AIF confirmed that the Vatican’s bank institution has no problem with the other European countries. “On the contrary, our collaboration is very close,” he insisted.

(sources: apic/imedia/Corriere della Sera – DICI#269 Feb. 1, 2013)

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