UK & World News
Vatican Goes Cash Only: Card Payments Stopped
Vatican tourists can only pay by cash after card payments for museum tickets, souvenirs and other services were blocked by Italy's central bank over money laundering fears.
The tiny city-state can no longer use electronic payments because the Holy See has not complied with European Union safeguards against money laundering.
As a result, Deutsche Bank Italia, which has provided the Vatican with the electronic payment services for 15 years, had its authorisation halted on December 31.
The Vatican says it is working to rectify the situation affecting thousands of tourists that flock to the Vatican Museums, which include highlights like the Sistine Chapel.
The museums, and tours of the Vatican's ancient underground paces, with their entrance fees and popular souvenir shops, are a big money-maker for the Vatican.
Tourists have complained about the inconvenience. Fluger William Hunter, an American tourist, said: "A lot of tourists don't have cash on them, so they have to get euros and don't know where to get them."
The central bank said a routine inspection found that Deutsche Bank Italia had not sought authorisation when it first started providing services at the Vatican, according to the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
When it did, the Bank of Italy turned it down because the Vatican's banking measures did not meet Italy's stringent criteria, a central bank official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The Vatican has been striving to upgrade its measures to detect and discourage money laundering, recently hiring a Swiss expert.
Last summer, the Holy See passed a key European financial transparency test but did not meet standards on its financial watchdog agency and its bank, formally called the Institute for Religious Works.