Vatican Card Payments Ban Over AML Concerns Ends

13 February 2013

The Vatican has reached an agreement with the Italian banking authorities, which will allow the resumption of debit and credit card payments in the city state, which have been the subject of a ban since the beginning of this year over concerns about inadequate anti-money laundering (AML) procedures.

“Credit card payments in the Vatican city state are once more activated,” said Father Federico Lombardi at a news briefing, illustrating that the news of the Pope’s recent resignation has not hindered the normal everyday running of the Vatican. He added that Swiss group Aduno will take on responsibility for electronic payment (e-payment) services used by tourists and pilgrims visiting its shops and museums, effectively bypassing the concerns of the Italian banking authorities.

The Bank of Italy (BoI) suspended all bank card payments on Vatican territory from 1 January this year and ordered Deutsche Bank Italia (DBI), which had previously managed e-payments, to turn off its systems in response to complaints that the city state had been deficient in introducing new anti-money laundering (AML) measures. The BoI said it was not required to approve the new arrangement as Aduno is not based in the European Union, so the new arrangement has been waved through.

A spokeswoman for Aduno, which is owned by Switzerland's banks, said the company had already begun to provide card payments services at Vatican museums on Tuesday this week, and would shortly add online payments for the museum website. She added that card providers MasterCard and Visa had both approved the new arrangement.

It is not the first time that the Vatican has been accused of inadequate AML procedures of course, with the ‘money lenders in the temple’ facing laundering accusation just three years ago.

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