Italian postal service Poste Italiane is introducing a new payments technology in an effort to attract more domestic small businesses, according to a report by Reuters.
Marco Siracusano, the head of digital payment company PostePay, shared the news on Friday (Jan. 24).
Poste Italiane’s new technology will be based on QR codes, which let buyers pay for things using their phones without the use of a POS terminal.
The new technology is aimed at the estimated 2.3 million merchants in the country, according to Siracusano.
Italy has been fairly adamant about the introduction of cashless payments; just last month, the country said it will give bonuses to people who eschew cash for electronic payment services.
The country has one of the lowest rates of credit card use in Europe, but that could change if the cashless initiative catches on.
The Italian government is setting aside $3 billion for the venture, with the goal of cutting down on fraud and black market deals.
Giorgio Di Giorgio, a professor of economics at Luiss University, said that many Italians are wary of electronic payments due to the country’s age and traditionalism. As he noted, older citizens are “less likely to change what they have been doing their entire lives,” and are skeptical of new technologies.
He added that because of a thriving black market economy, more people in Italy use cash because it’s not as traceable as digital payments.
The country has the highest rate of value-added tax (VAT) fraud in Europe. The difference between the amount of VAT paid and what should have been collected in 2015 was around $35 billion, down slightly from $41 billion the year before.
It’s estimated that the black market economy made up about 12 percent of the country’s yearly economic output in 2017.