The Vatican is restoring credit card payments and ATM transactions in its museums after they were suspended over concerns that the city-state was not taking enough measures to insure against money laundering.
Card service has been blocked for the last six weeks, but the Vatican has gotten around European Union banking rules by contracting with Swiss card payment specialist Aduno to provide card service. Pilgrims and tourists can once again use their cards when the visit the church of St. Peter's and the Vatican Museum.
The problem began at the start of 2013 when the Italian central bank prevented long-standing provider Deutsche Bank from continuing to offer payment services. The European Union law prevents EU banks from operating in non-EU states unless they have an adequate supervisory system or are found "equivalent" in the area of anti-money laundering practices. It said the Vatican failed on both counts.
The Bank of Italy does not have to approve the new arrangement because Aduno is not based in the EU. The retiring Pope Benedict had worked to clean up and improve the Vatican's financial reputation.
A 2012 study by Moneyval, a European anti-money laundering group, reported that the Vatican failed to measure up in seven of 16 key areas. It said the Vatican bank needed more transparency and tighter money laundering practices.
The Vatican and the Sistine Chapel are visited by an estimated five million tourists each year.