Many times, to explain the uncertainty of companies and organizations in understanding the benefits of digital innovation, information asymmetry has been spoken of. The value of innovation including cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, so often, could not be perceived as such by businesses, organizations or citizens in Italy.
It was like receiving a full and detailed answers, but to a question that had been asked... Today, what makes us consider 2019 a special year is that in many cases the answers that technology and market have given coincide with the right questions.
And if 2020 appears first and foremost as a half-full glass, the first reason is in the newfound symmetry between innovation and the reality of things. There are many areas where the benefits of this harmony are felt such as digital payments (like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies), Industry 4.0, the blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT).
It is rarely used in the world of finance, banking and payment, but the 4.0 suffix in 2020 could look just fine, even alongside digital payments. And in the case, Payment 4.0, it should represent the leap that this industry is going to face in Italy not only through technological innovation, but also because the attitude on the part of institutions and citizens has indisputably changed.
Thanks to the initiative that brought the theme of the "electronic receipt" to the center of the political debate, the contrast and the dismal relationship between digital payments (cryptocurrencies) and public opinion has come to the surface.
One cannot help but spend a few words on this effort, and on the sometimes embarrassing resistances with which people try to demonize the development of innovative payments. Since the executive finally embraced this issue with a series of measures that are still timid, but certainly very positive, a kind of media fuss has arisen which has helped to solve the information symmetry that have been talked about.
The discussion that has arisen has uncovered resistance to the development of digital payments (such as using Bitcoin) that have slowed this development for so long. At the same time it is also marking a turning point for the industry that now has very clear where it can arrive and what price it has to bear in terms of accessibility, cost reduction, interoperability, customer experience. We can say that there are conditions for 2020 to finally be the year of digital payments and let's see some reasons.
Government measures are a boost that come at the right time when digital payments (like cryptocurrencies) are showing their maturity of infrastructure, to better say when you are trying to move from the logic where digital payment was just an application for the sole management of a transaction to a use of these solutions to redesign the logic of use or access to infrastructure, mobility services, engagement and communication between organizations and customers or users.
In other words, payments as a platform that underpins smart city platform developments. 2019 has shown that the engine of this transformation is represented by smart mobility with examples of payments in the metro with credit card in Milan and Rome, with the steamers of Venice.
So, from payments as an application to payments as a platform in a fundamental context where Bitcoin is more beneficial, for everyone, than cash. And this evolution is good for the choice of the obligation of the electronic receipt for the whole world of commerce, professionals and craftsmen.
For this reason, the positive signs present in Maneuver 2020 bode well: €3 billion will also arrive in 2020 and 2021 in the form of incentives for citizens using alternative cash (fiat currency) payments. And we talk about €2,000 per year with Bonuses and tax deductions that are part of the 2020 Budget Act and in the related tax decree.
It also helps the new limit on the use of cash with a progressiveness between 2020 and 2021 of reduction in the use of cash, decrease to €2,000 from 1 July 2020 and €1,000 from 1 January 2022.
The path to digital payments is a cultural path and to move in the right direction, respecting the stages requires a cultural evolution, you need to know how to conquer the habits of citizens and you need the right Motivation.
In creating a real and strong motivation towards cryptocurrencies, it is necessary, as has been done, to focus a double attention towards the two big players that determine the success or failure of innovative payment: merchants on the one hand and customers on the other. This is also in the sign of a newfound information symmetry and, this time, also formative. But how?
Merchants are offered a tax rate on electronic payments fees to the extent of 30% of bank fees paid in return for the acceptance of card payments by consumers for all stores with revenues of no more than €400,000.
The extra motivation for consumers also comes with the initiative that from 1 July 2020 will allow to participate in a lottery based on the presentation of receipts as provided by Decree Law 124/2019. With this operation, consumers will be able to ask for a 'lottery code'.
At the time of purchase the customer will tell the merchant the code before the receipt is issued; The merchant must use a cash register prepared for the telematics transmission with which he will have to send the data relating to the transaction and receipt to the Revenue Agency.
Well, because regardless of the results, the operation is creating a serious and concrete comparison between the world of consumers and that of merchants and helps, culturally, to move from a situation where one wondered if "by chance it was possible to pay with innovative tools" to one in which it is normal to be able to pay with digital payment services.
Incidentally, it is envisaged that in the event that the merchant refuses at the time of purchase to acquire the lottery code, the consumer is in a position to report it in a dedicated section of the Lottery portal of the Revenue Agency website. And these indications will need a source for the Revenue Agency and Finance Guard who will have new means to reduce the risk of evasion.
And evasion is another side on which payments are asked to make a new contribution. Regarding the fight against tax evasion, the Observatory Innovative Payments of the Polytechnic University of Milan estimates that in 2016 the transacted Italians from merchants burdened by non-payments of VAT and other taxes reached levels between €120 and €150 billion. The damage to the state has resulted in a loss of revenue worth close to €27 billion. We are talking about a non-revenue that is the size of a financial one.
From the world and from the measures related to the fight against evasion must come a new Motivation to accelerate and help the country to overcome the delay in adopting solutions for cryptocurrencies.
The European Central Bank (ECB) data tells us that Italy is doing better in the development of innovative payments: in fact, payments with card per capita are growing by 16% compared to 2017, well, but still little because Italy is still 27th in the European Union and is the 23th in terms of transaction volumes per capita by card: the average of payments per year for each citizen reaches 65 when the European average exceeds 100 transactions and at the top of the ranking there are countries with 350 transactions.
Unfortunately, behind so much use of cash lies the desire not to track transactions. 2020 may not be the year that solves this theme but it must be the year in which this problem comes into the open in all its dimensions.
Among the "technical" points to be "resolved", remains that of the POS Obligation, that is, an obligation that in the absence of a sanctioning regime is an invitation, a stimulus, but not as a real obligation. Sanctions had been discussed in the stages that saw the preparation of the Decree, but they were "lost on the street.''
During the conversion process of the Tax Link 2020 (DL 124/2019) Article 23 was abolished, which provided for penalties for non-acceptance of payment by point of sale (POS), thus goodbye to sanctions for traders. The situation will therefore remain unchanged. The Tax Decree, before the conversion into law, contained an article (23) which introduced a sanction ingesting regime on the subject of mandatory POS.
Specifically, "old" Article 23 stipulated that from 1 July 2020, in the case of refusal by merchants, craftsmen and professionals to accept a card payment the introduction of a penalty worth €30.00 to which 4% of the value of the disputed transaction had to be added.
A measure that was (finally) to correct or better complete what is laid down in Article 15 of the Decree-Law 18 October 2012, No. 179. (to be read in this regard the service at the time dedicated to this topic: Of the alleged "POS obligation": when the norm is weak ...
If, as aforementioned, the first point to see in 2020 the year of digital payments is to bring to the fore all the factors that hold back the development of this industry and the spread of these habits certainly the alibi of the POS that "does not take" or that's not "at hand" etc. it's good that it fails. But at the same time it is equally important that this alibi also resolves that, less explicit and more concrete, of the cost of commissions.