Introduction to Italy

An overview of Italy's currency, population and key statistics.

Cash Currency

Germany uses the euro (€) as its official currency along with 19 other member states of the European Union. The euro banknotes in circulation in Germany include €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, and €500. In addition to banknotes, coins are also widely used in Germany. The euro coins available are as follows: 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, €1, and €2. While most euro banknotes and coins are readily accessible for transactions, it is important to note that the €500 banknote is not as commonly used. Some banking institutions and businesses may not have this particular denomination readily available.

Digital currency

The European Central Bank, which has the authority to issue the euro, is currently evaluating the possibility of introducing a digital euro. This proposed digital currency would function as an electronic form of payment supported by the central bank, akin to physical cash, and offer individuals an alternative means of conducting transactions. A study into a digital euro was initiated in October 2021 and is expected to be finalised by October 2023.


Italy had a population of 60,461,826 as of the middle of 2020, with a median age of 47.3 years, according to United Nations data. Worldometer's analysis of the UN data revealed that approximately 70% of Italy's population resides in urban areas, particularly Rome, Milan, and Naples. The country had a population of 60,198,758 as of June 2023.


Italy's official language is Italian and it is the most widely spoken throughout the country. However, several regional languages and dialects have co-official status in specific regions. Those languages include Sardinian, Sicilian, Friulian, Ladin, German, and French.

Key Statistics

  • Italy had a gross domestic product of $2,107.70 billion in 2021, based on Trading Economics data. The country's GDP expanded by 3.7% in 2022.

  • According to CEIC data, Italy had a gross savings rate of 19.2% as of March 2023. Italian households saved approximately 7% of their disposable incomes as of the final quarter of 2022.

Internet & Mobile Phone Trends

  • Based on data compiled by Statista, approximately 80% of Italians between the ages of 18 and 54 have internet access, while a mere 20% of those aged 65 years and above engage in regular online activities.

  • The country had 49.48 million internet users in January 2020, according to Datareportal, reflecting an increase of 2.2%, or approximately 1.2 million users, from the previous year, resulting in an internet penetration rate of 82%.

  • The PPRO WECE Report further shows that smartphone penetration rose to 76% as of the end of 2019, marking a notable increase from 66% in 2018.

E-commerce Statistics

  • Despite the slow growth of e-commerce in Italy, the country is still considered a well-established market. According to JPMorgan, the industry has been affected by the country's high unemployment rate and struggling economy.

  • The average annual revenue generated by e-commerce users in 2020 was $1,510. According to a report by Emarketer, the total sales of e-commerce products in Italy increased to over 30 billion in 2020. Most foreign products sold online in the country come from Germany, China, and the United Kingdom.

  • Moreover, data compiled by indicate that 47.74 million Italians had bank accounts in 2019, equating to a banking rate of 60.36%, based on the country's current population. In contrast, only 42% of the population possessed debit or credit cards.

Summary of Italy's Fiscal Policy

The Italian government is currently implementing a process to gradually reduce the country's budget deficit. In 2022, the deficit was expected to be 5.6% of GDP, compared with 7.2% in 2021. The government aims to reduce the deficit to 2.8% of GDP by 2025.

The government's fiscal policy is aimed at reducing Italy's public debt level, which currently stands at 150% of GDP. It believes the debt level can be brought down to a sustainable level by reducing the budget deficit.

Although the government's goal of reducing the deficit is admirable, some experts believe Italy's fiscal policy stance is too cautious. They are of the opinion that the country should aggressively reduce its deficit to avoid a potential sovereign debt crisis.

The government is currently facing the difficult task of balancing the need to reduce the deficit while supporting economic growth to improve living standards and create jobs. Investors and financial markets will closely monitor the government's stance on this issue.

How People Pay in Italy

An overview of how people in Italy choose to make payments.

Traditional Payment Methods

The primary traditional payment methods used in Italy


A Visa credit/debit card is a financial payment card issued by banks or financial institutions. It allows users to make purchases, withdraw cash and can be used online and in person. Visa's processing network can handle over 65,000 transaction messages per second.


Mastercard is a worldwide payment network that links financial institutions, merchants, and individuals, facilitating seamless transactions. This renowned company provides a range of credit and debit cards issued through partner banks. Customers may enjoy supplementary benefits such as rewards programs, cashback offers, and insurance coverage depending on the specific bank.

American Express

American Express cards encompass a range of payment cards provided by the multinational financial services corporation, American Express Company. The Amex card portfolio includes diverse options like credit cards, charge cards, and prepaid cards. Renowned for their broad acceptance among merchants, these cards grant cardholders access to various advantages, including perks, rewards programs, travel benefits, and dedicated customer service assistance.


The Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) is an EU initiative that harmonises direct debit payments across 36 countries in the eurozone. It ensures consistent payment processing for merchants and offers consumers the same level of security and convenience. SEPA covers all banks that provide euro-denominated direct debits and uses standardised identifiers like BIC and IBAN for payment transactions. It aims to create a unified payment market and promote cross-border trade within the eurozone.


Postepay is a prepaid card issued by Poste Italiane, accepted by all establishments displaying the Visa logo. The Postepay app allows users to conveniently manage their prepaid and PosteMobile SIM cards, accessing payment and telephony services while on the go.

Alternative Payment Methods

The top APMs used in Italy.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay, a mobile payment service from Apple Inc, allows users to make in-person, online, and in-app payments. It replaces chip and PIN transactions at contactless terminals.


PayPal is a frequently used digital payment system that allows clients to use their PayPal accounts, debit/credit cards, or bank accounts. Customers use PayPal for secure online shopping and to send/receive money.

Google Pay

Google Pay is a digital wallet and payment service developed by Google. It allows users to make secure payments using their mobile devices or computers. It supports various payment methods, offers compatibility across different devices, and provides features like loyalty program integration and transit ticketing. Google Pay prioritises security and convenience with tokenisation and biometric authentication. It has expanded to include digital banking services and continues to evolve.


Clearpay is a payment method that allows consumers to pay for goods or services in four instalments over six weeks. Through its partnerships with various retailers, Clearpay enables its customers to pay for their purchases in person or online. It is free to use, and it does not charge interest on the customer's purchases. Customers can also make automatic payments, which are deducted from their bank accounts every two weeks.


Founded in 2005, Klarna is a global payment and shopping service. It offers flexible payment options, including bank transfers, BNPL, and instalments. Klarna's Buyers Protection policy ensures consumer protection. The payment options are integrated into the checkout process of partnering merchants. With 90 million active consumers and over 250,000 merchants in 17 countries, Klarna is a trusted and popular choice for convenient and secure payments.

Accepting Payments in Italy

A guide to accepting payments in Italy.

How to Accept Online Payments in Italy

Before accepting online payments, you must determine which methods you prefer. Then you can choose a payment gateway provider, a service that authorises and processes online payments with their specific system.

Although there are plenty of payment gateway options in Italy, the general process for online payments typically involves an acquirer, issuer, retailer, and cardholder in the following steps:

  1. The cardholder initiates a payment by presenting their payment card to the retailer to purchase goods or services.

  2. The retailer sends the payment details to the acquirer, who processes the payment request and sends it to the payment scheme (such as Mastercard or Visa).

  3. The payment scheme sends the payment request to the issuer (such as a bank or licensed issuer) who issued the card to the cardholder.

  4. The issuer checks if the cardholder has enough funds to complete the transaction and approves or declines the payment request. If the payment is approved, the issuer sends an authorisation code to the payment scheme.

  5. The payment scheme sends the authorisation code to the acquirer, which then sends it to the retailer, completing the transaction.

How Long Does an International Payment from Italy Take?

The payment processing time may vary depending on the method and the recipient's bank. For instance, online money transfers through platforms like PayPal can quickly and conveniently send money to multiple destinations.

  • Bank debit/credit cards: International payments with bank debit or credit cards may take a few minutes to a few hours, depending on bank processing times.

  • Online money transfers: Platforms like PayPal can process international payments within minutes to hours, depending on the service and destination country.

  • Wire transfers: Traditional bank-to-bank transfers via SWIFT or wire may take one to five business days or longer, depending on the destination country, intermediary banks, and transaction requirements.


Merchant fees

Merchant fees for online payments in Italy can vary depending on the payment method and the merchant services provider used. Here are some examples of typical merchant fees for online payments in Italy:

  • Credit and debit cards: Merchant fees for accepting online credit and debit card payments can range according to the transaction amount. It also varies depending on the type of card used and the merchant services provider.

  • Bank transfers: Bank transfer fees can vary depending on the bank used, with some banks charging a flat fee per transaction and others charging a percentage of the transaction amount.

Other fees

Other fees surrounding online payments in Italy include charges incurred by merchants, payment processors, and financial institutions involved in the payment processing chain. Below are some common fees:

  • Interchange fees: Interchange fees are charges paid by merchants' banks to cardholders' banks to cover the costs of processing card transactions. These fees are usually based on a percentage of the transaction value and can vary depending on the type of card used and the merchant's industry.

  • Payment gateway fees: Payment gateway providers charge a fee for processing transactions on their platform, which may be a percentage of the transaction value or a flat fee per transaction.

  • Cross-border fees: If a merchant accepts payments from customers outside the country, they may be subject to additional fees for cross-border transactions, including currency conversion fees and international processing fees.

  • Merchant discount rate: A processing fee that merchants are charged for transactions made using credit or debit cards. This fee generally falls within 1% to 3% of the total transaction amount.

Security Challenges of Online Payments in Italy

Like in many other countries, online payments in Italy face various security challenges. Some of the prominent ones are phishing attacks, malware attacks, and data breaches.

  • Phishing attacks involve criminals using deceptive emails or text messages to trick individuals into revealing personal information on fake websites.

  • Malware attacks exploit vulnerabilities to steal sensitive data or take control of computer systems.

  • Data breaches occur when unauthorised parties access and steal valuable information from companies, leading to potential fraud and identity theft.

To improve the security of their online transactions, Italian financial institutions and banks can implement various measures, such as training their employees on how to prevent phishing attacks and implement multi-factor authentication. They can also conduct regular audits and establish incident response plans.

These steps help prevent unauthorised access and fraud during transactions. They also safeguard the confidentiality of consumers' data.

Key Sectors & Industries in Italy

An overview of the Italian market.


In 2022, the tourism sector of Italy was expected to contribute 8.7% to the country's GDP. It was also expected to create around 2.7 million jobs. Some of the top tourist destinations in Italy include Rome, Pompeii, Milan, Sicily, and Lake Como.


Machinery is another important sector in Italy's economy, accounting for 22% of GDP in 2021. Italy is a major exporter of machinery, particularly in automotive, aerospace, and industrial machinery.


Fashion is also a key sector in Italy's economy, accounting for almost 6% of its GDP. Italy is home to some of the world's most famous fashion brands, including Gucci, Prada, Versace, and Armani. Italy's fashion industry also exports over €70 billion worth of goods yearly.


According to ITAR, Italy is one of the top producers of food and agricultural products in the European Union. The sector accounts for 2% of the country's GDP. Although the country's mountainous terrain makes farming difficult, around 6% of its population is engaged in agriculture. Small farms measuring 11 hectares or less are common in Italy.


Italy's biotech industry is expanding with 777 companies and 13,277 employees. Despite a 5% decrease in revenue to $12.3 billion in 2020, Italian biotech companies actively fought against the coronavirus outbreak through gene sequencing, receptor identification, and vaccine development. The red biotech sector represents 48% of companies, while pharmaceutical and medical device firms drive 74% of the industry's turnover.


The National Association of Building Contractors reported that Italy's construction industry expanded by 16.4% to €147.9 billion in 2021. The construction of new homes and non-residential buildings both increased by 12% in 2021. In addition, civil engineering and public works projects increased by 15%. Projects related to housing renovation, which had been the only sub-sector to post continuous growth during the financial crisis, increased 25% in 2021.


Italy, as one of the largest markets in Europe for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), saw the sector expanding by 37% to over €2.3 billion in 2021. Over half of this was attributed to imports. National production also increased by 11% in 2021. The number of air treatment and cooling systems sold also increased by 17% due to the government's support for energy-efficient technologies and the increasing interest in air quality.

Airport & Cargo

Over 80 million travellers passed through Italy's airports in 2021, representing a 52.4% increase from 2020. However, it is still well below the 192.6 million recorded in 2019, before the start of the pandemic. Italy's cargo industry also handled over 1 million tons. Milan Malpensa Airport handled nearly half of this, accounting for 747,242 tons.


The cybersecurity market in Italy was valued at $1.6 billion in 2021. It was the fourth-largest target in the world for malware attacks and the largest target in Europe for ransomware attacks. Large companies, which are the main drivers of the country's cybersecurity market, are heavily investing in artificial technology and Industry 4.0.

Renewable Energy

The country is an attractive market for renewable energy and natural gas technologies. According to an Environment and Energy Security Ministry report, about 80% of Italy's energy consumption comes from fossil fuels. Natural gas is used for cooking, transportation, and electricity generation. Renewable energy sources accounted for around 20% of the country's energy mix in 2021.

Italy exported over $200 billion worth of goods and services in 2021. Some of the top exports were automobiles, vehicle parts and accessories, pharmaceuticals, vaccines, blood, and antisera. Most of the country's exports went to France, Germany, the US, Spain, and the UK. Meanwhile, Italy imports of petroleum products were valued at over $31 billion in 2021. It also imported vaccines, blood, and toxins. Most of the country's imports were from France, Germany, China, and the Netherlands.

Regulation in Italy

The regulatory environment of Italy.

Summary of the Regulatory Environment in Italy

To maintain fairness and operational smoothness in business ventures in Italy, entrepreneurs are required to comply with a range of laws and regulations, which include:

  • Company Law: This includes regulations governing companies' establishment, operations, and dissolution.

  • Employment law: This includes regulations governing employment contracts, working conditions, and employee rights.

  • Product liability law: This includes regulations governing the legal liabilities and responsibilities of manufacturers, sellers, distributors, and other parties involved in the production and sale of goods.

  • Intellectual property law: This includes regulations governing copyrights, patents, and trademarks.

  • Competition law: This includes regulations governing competition and antitrust matters to promote fair competition.

  • Consumer protection law: This includes regulations governing the rights of consumers, product safety, and advertising standards.

  • Data protection law: This includes regulations concerning the collection, use, and storage of personal data.

Like many other nations, Italy has multiple governmental entities overseeing those various regulations. For example, the Data Protection Authority of Italy is an independent body that upholds the rights of individuals and protects their personal information. It enforces the country's data protection laws and is involved in international activities. The regulation of personal data in Italy is carried out through the Privacy Code of Italy. It incorporates the General Data Protection Regulation.

How Card Payments are Regulated in Italy

Payment cards are regulated by various laws in Italy. The Civil Code provides the framework for the principles that govern the contract between banks and card issuers. The Banking Law covers financial firms' activities in accepting and issuing such cards.

In 2015, the European Union implemented the Interchange Fee Regulation to provide consumers with better protection and fair practices. It imposes the maximum amount of interchange fees that can be charged. This regulation prevents merchants and card users from being charged excessive fees.

Implementing the Italian Payment Services Directive was also part of the EU's efforts to enhance the security of online transactions. Payment service providers must implement various measures to protect their customers' sensitive data.

Besides the legal framework, various industry standards are also implemented by credit card associations in Italy. These standards help ensure that the procedures and operations of card payments are consistent.

Do I Need a Licence?

Yes. You must have the proper legal right to establish a business in Italy. Before starting a company in the country, you must have a residence permit and a visa.

Irrespective of the nature of their activities, entrepreneurs must register their companies. This applies to all types of businesses, including producing, transporting, and circulating goods.

Payment Solutions in Italy

An overview of how to accept payments from customers in the UK.

Payment Gateways and Providers in Italy

Payment methods are constantly evolving and companies must be able to accommodate their customers' needs. With the help of APEXX's solution, Italian merchants can now accept payments from different providers.

Recognising that payment methods are constantly evolving, businesses need a solution that can accommodate their customers' needs. With the help of its POL platform, APEXX can provide a central hub that connects banks and payment methods.

One of the main advantages of the POL platform from APEXX is its ability to handle different payment methods. It also comes with a variety of features that can help companies improve their efficiency.

The intelligent routing feature of the APEXX POL platform uses a methodology that takes into account various factors, such as the cost, currency, and risk, to determine which payment method is ideal for each transaction. It avoids potential issues and helps companies cut down on transaction fees.

The integration of APEXX POL into existing systems is effortless. Its pre-built APIs and plugins allow companies to easily integrate the payment processing system with various platforms, such as point-of-sale terminals and e-commerce sites. This flexibility eliminates potential issues and disruptions and helps businesses run smoothly.

Companies in Italy rely on APEXX to improve their payment processing and manage their operations. Through its flexible framework, they can process different payment methods and enhance their customer service.

Cheapest Payment Solutions in Italy

To reduce fees in their payment stacks, merchants in Italy can implement the following strategies:

  • Negotiate fees: Merchants should negotiate with their payment providers for better rates, which can include transaction fees, interchange fees, and monthly fees.

  • Choose a suitable payment provider: Merchants should research and compare different payment providers to select the one that offers competitive rates and low fees.

  • Use alternative payment methods: Merchants can reduce fees by using alternative payment methods such as e-wallets or bank transfers instead of traditional card payments.

  • Prevent chargebacks: To avoid chargebacks and additional fees, merchants can offer clear product descriptions, prompt customer complaint resolution, and refunds when necessary.

  • Implement fraud prevention measures: Merchants should adopt fraud prevention measures to prevent fraudulent transactions, which can lead to chargebacks and additional fees.

  • Monitor payment processing fees: Merchants should keep a close eye on their payment processing fees and use payment analytics tools to track their expenses and identify areas where they can reduce costs. Merchants can also consider using payment aggregators such as APEXX, which allow them to accept multiple payment methods through a single platform, reducing the need for multiple payment providers and lowering costs.

BNPL in Italy

In Italy, the BNPL payments are expected to grow at a robust rate of 70% during the next few years. The adoption of the payment method is expected to increase steadily over the next couple of years. The gross merchandise value of the country is expected to reach $24 billion by 2028.

The increasing number of people using the BNPL payment method in Italy has been attributed to the country's evolving consumer preferences. The emergence of new payment methods and the increasing number of providers in the country have also contributed to the market's growth.

With the increasing number of providers and the growing acceptance of the BNPL payment method, Italian merchants can now benefit from using APEXX to integrate various payment systems and manage their operations.

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