Italy’s central bank has blocked the use of all debit and credit cards in the Vatican, saying the Holy See has failed to fully implement anti-money laundering legislation. A Vatican statement said its agreement with a bank that previously supported point-of-sale payments has expired and that the talks were under way with other service providers. The statement assured that the interruption to electronic payments was expected to be “of brief duration.” The Vatican was obliged to meet the European Union safeguards on finances by the start of the year 2013.
A Council of Europe-backed committee said last year that the Vatican bank, or the Institute for Works of Religion, had made progress in reforming its anti-money laundering legislation but a lot of work had to be done regarding financial transparency and oversight.Having failed to do that, the Deutsche Bank Italia, which handles all bank card payments on Vatican territory, was ordered to deactivate its terminals on January 1, 2013. According to the Vatican City state’s annual financial report, five million tourists visited the Vatican museum last year spending more than 90 million euros on tickets and souvenirs. This year, they will have to spend cash until a solution is reached. The same rule has been enforced at the Vatican's pharmacy, its post office and the few shops that operate in the tiny territory. TE/PKH