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Credit card ban lifted in Vatican

A ban on the use of credit cards and bank cards in Vatican City ended on 12 February after having been in place since 1 January.

The new service was "guaranteed" by a deal with Swiss company Aduno Sa, according to Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi.

The agreement means that tourists and pilgrims can once again use credit cards and bank cards at the Vatican Museums, which bore the brunt of the ban for the last six weeks. Over five million visitors spent €91.3 million at the museums in 2011.

Likewise Vatican employees had complained over having to conduct all their business at the Vatican's supermarket, pharmacy and post office using cash. However cash withdrawals were not affected from machines operated by the Vatican’s bank, the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR).

In a statement Aduno said that “The payment terminals installed in the Vatican are equipped with user-friendly colour displays and boast the latest security certificates.”

At the start of this year the Bank of Italy blocked all credit and debit card transactions in the Vatican as part of efforts by Italian financial authorities to curb money laundering in the tiny sovereign state.

Italy's central bank refused to approve a license to provide electronic payment services to the Italian unit of Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) – which had been operating the Vatican’s payment services since 1997 – over concerns that the papal state lacked sufficient banking and financial legislation.

The Italian banking authority is also believed to have taken the step because the Vatican is not part of the European Union and therefore does not meet the EU common banking standards on vigilance.

In 2012 the EU money-laundering watchdog Moneyval called for greater transparency and tougher anti-money laundering measures by the Vatican bank.

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