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It's cash only at the Vatican

This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

January 03, 2013|By Hugo Martin
  • Ben Kiniry of Texas gets cash from an ATM machine along Via della Conciliazione, the main road leading to St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.
Ben Kiniry of Texas gets cash from an ATM machine along Via della Conciliazione,… (Alessandra Tarantino /…)

In God we trust. All others pay cash.

That may be the new motto at the Vatican since the Bank of Italy pulled its authorization to accept credit cards and other electronic payments from visitors as of Dec. 31.

The Italian central bank denied a permit to Deutsche Bank in Italy to continue handling electronic transactions for the Vatican because the Holy See has not yet fully complied with the European Union's stringent safeguards against money laundering, according to bank officials and Italian news reports.

The website for the Vatican museum has posted a message saying: "We regret to inform visitors that from 1 January 2013, for reasons beyond the control of the Directorate of the Museums, it will not be possible to make payments in the Vatican Museums by electronic means such as Bancomat or credit/debit card. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."

The Vatican is scrambling to fix the problem, which has forced throngs of visitors to pay with cash when paying for tickets for the Vatican museum and buying souveniers, according to reports.

In 2011, the number of visitors to the Vatican museum topped 5 million. Ticket prices range from $5 to $21.

Deutsche Bank in Italy declined to comment on the matter Thursday.

The Vatican had yet to issue a statement on the matter through its press service Thursday.

[For the record, 2:30 p.m., Jan. 3: A previous version of this story quoted news reports that said Deutsche Bank in Italy did not comply with Europe's anti-money-laundering requirements. Banking officials say it is the Vatican that has not met the requirements.]

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Follow Hugo Martin on Twitter at @hugomartin

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