Vatican enters day four of electronic payment blackout

When Chinese student Zhou Lingli arrived at the Vatican to sight-see at the state's museums, including the ceiling frescos painted by Michelangelo, his plan was to use a credit card to pay for tickets. He – and thousands of other tourists – were likely surprised to find out that the Vatican would be cash-only for the time being.

Given that Vatican museums raked in $119 million in 2011, any extended suspension of electronic payments could be debilitating, since some customers will simply be unable to afford certain products or services without using their credit or debit card.

"We expected to buy tickets with the credit card, but we had to use the cash which is a problem for us as we will now have less money to use for the rest of the day," Lingli told Bloomberg Businessweek.

Electronic payment suspension expected to 'brief'

The electronic payment ban has been in effect since January 1, when the Bank of Italy barred Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) from providing these services. The Vatican had been analyzing its relationship with Deutsche for more than two years, due to concerns about financial crimes related to its electronic payment processing service. Deutsche had been a partner since 1997.

Vatican officials expect services to be restored soon.

Although the Vatican's suspension of electronic payments is self-imposed, extended outages of credit card processing equipment need to be avoided by businesses at all costs. These days, it's unreasonable for business owners to expect all of their customers to have cash on-hand, which is why reliable POS payment processing systems are so valuable.

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