After taking applications between November 2021 and January 2022, this month saw the official opening of Italy’s regulatory sandbox for FinTech innovation.
As PYMNTS reported earlier this month, regulatory sandboxes have proven a hit with governments the world over, and since the United Kingdom launched the first one in 2016, sandboxes around the world have spurred innovation and cultivated a new wave of FinTech startups.
As elsewhere, many of Italy’s FinTechs are devoted to bringing innovative payment solutions to businesses and consumers.
For example, Scalapay has emerged as one of the leaders in the country’s buy now, pay later (BNPL) landscape by focusing on the small-ticket transactions that Italians are most likely to use the service for, the firm’s CEO Simone Mancini, told PYMNTS in an interview.
“Most retailers in Italy, France and Spain were quite skeptical and thought their customers wouldn’t need [BNPL] for 30 euros to 50 euros worth of products, but we were able to prove that it was quite useful,” he said. “And once they activated Scalapay, they saw 10% to 20% of customers adopting it straightaway.”
Italians surveyed about their payment methods for PYMNTS’ “Benchmarking the Digital Transformation” report said BNPL accounted for just 1% of all online payments. Although this suggests that Italians could be wary of the payment option as Mancini alluded to, it also indicates the huge growth potential BNPL has in the online payments market.
See more: Benchmarking the EU’s Digital Engagement
In terms of alternative payment methods, Italians are among the foremost adopters of cryptocurrency in Europe. According to Statista, 48% of Italians have used some form of cryptocurrency to make online payments in the past.
What’s more, research conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Coinbase revealed that 33% of people are convinced that crypto will have a positive impact on society and that one in four owned crypto assets.
In that survey, 26% of respondents claimed to have a good knowledge of crypto assets, higher than in other European countries investigated. In France, the figure was 18%; in Germany, 20%.
In Italy’s regulatory environment, crypto exchanges are taking advantage of the Italian government’s ambitions to become a leader in the adoption of blockchain technology to firm up their presence in the country.
Following the introduction of a special section of Organismo Agenti e Mediatori’s (OAM’s) register dedicated to crypto asset service providers and crypto wallets, international and native Italian exchanges and wallets have had to apply for permission from the OAM to carry out business in Italy.
Last week, OAM officially registered and authorized Crypto.com. The approval effectively allows Crypto.com to provide its products and services to Italian customers.
The latest news follows a similar decree from the OAM in May, which granted Binance a license to operate as a crypto asset service provider.
The successful licensing of two of the world’s most popular crypto exchanges with the OAM demonstrates that the Italian market for crypto assets is certainly attractive enough to warrant any expenses associated with registration.
But although the OAM register is proving the viability of a licensing framework for crypto firms, the legal status of the assets themselves is still by no means clear.
While the Italian government passed legislation issuing a statutory definition of blockchain and smart contracts in 2019, as with many European countries, the precise legal status of digital assets in the country is ambiguous.
Much of the government’s interest in crypto assets appears to revolve around the question of how best to tax them. In this respect, Italian tax authorities are bound by the European Union-wide framework for crypto taxation as laid out by the European Court of Justice.
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