Jan. 04 - Italy has blocked the use of credit and debit cards in the tiny autonomy of the Catholic Church, because of concerns over financial transparency, inconveniencing tourists - one of the Vatican's biggest sources of income. Joanna Partridge reports
Visitors to the Vatican should come prepared - with lots of cash. Italy has blocked the use of credit and debit cards in the tiny city state. Rome's concerned about a lack of financial transparency there. The move is a blow for the Holy See, as sales of souvenirs, stamps and admission tickets to people visiting attractions like the Sistine Chapel is one of its biggest sources of income. In 2011, 5 million visitors brought in over 91 million euros. The Vatican Museums warned tourists on its website it couldn't take payments inside its walls from January 1. SOUNDBITE: Dutch tourist, saying (English): "We got cash yesterday, a lot." SOUNDBITE: Mariangela Oldani, Tourist, saying (Italian): "It's really difficult for tourists who arrive and then see that you can't use cards. It shouldn't happen in a place like this, there should be better service." A source close to Italy's central bank said it had revoked Deutsche Bank Italy's permit to provide electronic payment services for the Vatican. Last year, Moneyval - a Council of Europe-backed commitee to tackle money laundering and terrorism financing - said the Vatican bank had serious failings, and called on it to strengthen measures to increase transparency.