Vatican 'surprised' by Bank of Italy decision to force suspension of credit card payments

A senior Vatican official says he is "truly surprised" by the Bank of Italy's decision to enforce the suspension of credit card payments in the tiny city-state and insists the Vatican has taken adequate measures to fight money laundering.

The Vatican has been cash-only since Jan. 1 after Italy's central bank compelled Deutsche Bank Italia to stop providing electronic payment services. That has meant visitors to the Vatican Museums and the Vatican post office have had to pay cash for any transactions.

Bankitalia said it had no choice but to act because the Vatican has no banking regulatory framework or EU-recognized alternative for anti-money-laundering purposes.

Rene Bruelhart, director of the Vatican's financial watchdog agency, noted in comments published Sunday that the Vatican passed a key European financial transparency test last year.