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Let's dive in:

  • Italy: Hates digital payments
  • Expelliarmus: Wells Fargo launches Vantage
  • Round Up: All the latest headlines.


Today's Big Ideas

Why Italians Hate Digital Payments

Italy's Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, issued a draft budget last week that went hard on digital payments. 

Under the new budget, Italian merchants would have the right to refuse digital payments for any transaction under €60 ($63). And the ceiling for legal cash transactions would rise from €1,000 to €5,000.

Why is Meloni's Brothers of Italy party acting against digital payments? Well, besides the move being popular among voters, they blame steep transaction fees.

Meloni calls transaction fees a "hidden tax", an "illegitimate gift for banks" and a mechanism for spying and profiling hardworking families.

Italians already make the fewest card payments in Europe–85.6 per person per year, compared to 350 in Finland. Unsurprisingly, Italy also has a vast shadow economy, valued at €183b, around 11% of GDP.

Predictably, Brussels isn't a fan of the idea. Beyond the obvious–tax dodging, crime, an all-raound archaic move–the plans go against Italy's pandemic Recovery Plan. The Plan agreed with Brussels in return for around 200 billion euros ($208 billion) of EU funds created sanctions for retailers who refuse to accept card payments.

So, what's the latest?

Meloni released a video to her 2.6m followers where she seemed to backtrack on the idea. Here's what she said:

"Until 60 euros, we would like not to force retailers to accept electronic payments. But let's say that the 60-euro threshold is indicative, for me, it could even be lower."

We'll have to see how this pans out. It looks like a €60 limit isn't going to work. What's likely, though, is a squeeze on transaction fees starting at the top.

Wells Fargo Launches "Magic" New Platform 🧙

Wells Fargo has unveiled Vantage–a one-stop-shop for digital banking that Reetika Grewal, EVP, says is "magic".

Vantage stitches together all of the bank's digital portals into one solution. It uses what the bank's calling ‘persona-driven AI’ to personalise the experience and ML to pre-empt customer behaviour on the platform. Every user–from a family-run shop to a global corporation–can use Vantage to manage their finances.

Don't worry: everyone's favourite virtual assistant, "Fargo" isn't going anywhere. The Google Cloud AI-powered is on-hand to offer guidance

3 Reasons to Be Bullish on "Paying by Bank" in 2023

In an interview with AltiFi, Hiroki Takeuchi, co-founder and CEO of GoCardless, laid out the three reasons he believes "paying by bank" will be big next year. 

For those short on time, here's what he said:

1. Bank Payments Are Already Up: Bank payments like Direct Debit (UK) have been popular for decades. We're seeing a groundswell in the use of Faster Payments (23% YOY increase reaching 3.6 billion). Users are associating the ‘pay by bank’ button with faster, easier and more secure payments.

2. Cards Are Expensive: Card fees in the UK have increased 13% since 2015 while the allure has declined, especially among Gen Z. Forrester predicts at least one global retailer will start experimenting with a 'pay by bank' mechanism next year.

3. Incumbents Are Wading In: JPMorgan and MasterCard announced their Pay-by-Bank product in November. It seems likely that HSBC and Barclays will join them in adding a ‘pay by bank’ option for customers. All the pieces are coming together.



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