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25 November 2020

Italian Banking Association focuses on payments innovation

New ways of thinking, new ways of working. In a word, innovation. Such has been one impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Appropriately to its own business and in keeping with the times, this year's Salone dei Pagamenti (payments fair) promoted by ABI (the banking association) was held wholly online earlier this month. The association's events team, ABIeventi, hosted three days of digital workshops and discussions into what's happening in payments, where payment systems are heading and how they're getting there. In addition to virtual stands, explorable with a 3D map, the event offered its online visitors a busy programme, with more than 200 speakers in a total of 37 discussion sessions and 22 workshops that looked at developments in nine areas, including the shop of tomorrow, towards a digital society, the new tech frontier and cyber-security.

Opening the event, Antonio Patuelli, ABI's president, underlined how the payments sector is among the most innovative in applying technology to devices and services used by consumers, business and government. “Even during this difficult period it is playing an important catalytic role in digitalising the country,” he said. The pandemic has accelerated behavioural changes, noted Mr Patuelli, pointing to Italians' increasing preference for contactless payment by card or smartphone. Sessions offered the opportunity to hear experts whose work embraces payments systems (telecoms operators, Fintech firms, banks and regulators) as well as people whose sectors, firms or lives are touched by payment systems (supermarket chains, households, government bodies, SMEs and the self-employed, for example).

In a round-table opening the second day, Giovanni Sabatini, ABI's director-general, and Alessandra Perrazzelli, Bank of Italy deputy general-manager, assessed the implications of the EU's payment services directive (PSD2) and the new horizons open to banks. For Mr Sabatini, “The next step is to extend the concept of open access to data, which is underway and regulated for payment services, to all economic sectors of the single digital market.” Reassuring for banks, Ms Perrazzelli has a positive view on how “traditional intermediaries” can successfully exploit this new platform economy.


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