Italian Banks Pushing Plastic Declare ‘War on Cash’

Wednesday, January 5, 2011
By Paul Martin

By Sonia Sirletti and Jeffrey Donovan
Bloomberg.com

Jan. 4 (Bloomberg) — Cash is king in Italy, a lesson Massimiliano Romano learned when he tried to pay for a cab with a credit card at Romeƕs main train station.
“I thought my cards would be enough,” said Romano, head of research at brokerage Concentric Italy in Milan. “But I had to let 10 people go in front of me in the line before I found a driver who would accept a credit card.”
The Italian Banking Association has declared “war on cash” in a country where credit-card usage is less than half the European Union average, according to the Bank of Italy. The association, known by its Italian acronym ABI, says it costs banks and companies as much as 10 billion euros ($13.3 billion) a year to process cash payments, mainly in increased security and labor. Rome-based ABI aims to cut those expenses by promoting electronic payments with credit and debit cards and wire transfers in both the public and private sectors.

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