Italian Government Plans to Pay Citizens to Move to Mobile Payments

January 1, 2020         By: Steven Anderson

There’s an old saying about getting more of what you subsidize directly. Whether it’s more crime, higher birth rates, or even just more people wishing each other good morning, the best way to get more of something is to pay for it. That’s a point the Italian government is recognizing, and working toward accordingly with plans to pay citizens to start using mobile payments tools.

The Italian government is setting up a $3 billion fund, reports note, to offer direct cash incentives to get citizens to turn to credit cards and similar mechanisms—like, of course, mobile wallets and mobile payments tools—instead of just turning to cash. The Italian government is said to be pushing this phenomenon in a bid to cut down on black market dealings and assorted fraud by providing a way to track purchases.

While there aren’t a lot of details out just yet about the program, one thing is clear: Italians as a whole are suspicious of mobile payments tools. This, according to Luiss University professor Giorgio Di Giorgio, is due in large part to the higher average age of Italians and a history of traditionalist thought. That makes innovation tougher to push, as we’ve seen from most any bank that tries to shut down branches in favor of mobile-only alternatives.

It certainly doesn’t help that elements of the Italian government–including the Brothers of Italy party, a hard-right organization–are actively working against such payments tools, suggesting that the government overreaching its power might be the biggest danger to Italians yet.

This comes back to an overarching point we’ve long held here; mobile payments are great as an option, and should be treated as such. Leave it to the consumers what to do with their own money and the best outcome will be achieved. Already, the Italian government itself has noted that the young are increasingly interested in mobile payments—it’s safer that way since you carry less cash around—so by just letting time take its course, mobile payments should increase in vogue in Italy directly.

Still, a little grease for the wheel isn’t always bad, and perhaps Italy’s plan to subsidize mobile payments will go off just fine.