Innovative payments: digital payments in Italy in 2022 397 billion euros

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Continue to grow double digits, even in 2022, transactions with digital payment instruments in Italy are close to i 400 billion euros (40% of consumption), a value that includes both card and wallet-based payments (390 billion euros, up +18% compared to 2021), and account-based payments [1] (7 billion euros). These are the main findings that emerge from theInnovative Payments Observatory of the School of Management of the Milan Polytechnicpresented on 7 March at the conference “Innovative payments: don’t look back”.

The general growth is reflected in all components, both in the more traditional ones such as cards, where payments contactless reach 186 billion euros (+45% on 2021), both in new payment methods (Innovative Payments) which recorded a value of 20.3 billion euro (+107%).

“Data on digital payments in Italy in 2022 show that what was recorded in 2021 was not just a rebound after the collapse in consumption, but that the pandemic crisis has structurally changed consumer habits, who find these means increasingly convenient, faster and safe, leading the market to grow at a faster rate than pre-covid. According to ECB data on the number of per capita card transactions recorded in 2021, Italy is one of the fastest growing countries in the last year (+33.6%)” he claims Alessandro Perego, Scientific Head of the Digital Innovation Observatories of the Milan Polytechnic.

Innovative Payments: mobile and wearable in strong growth

Inside the Innovative Payments, mobile and wearable represent the two fundamental components of growth: during 2022, Italians increasingly used smartphones or wearable devices to make payments in stores, for a total of 16.3 billion euros in transactions (+122% compared to 2021).

The smartphone is once again the center of innovation in the payments sectorthanks to the now widespread diffusion (in 2021 it was used by almost two thirds of the world population [4]) and the ability to offer a user experience increasingly optimal compared to traditional tools, both in store and online payments.

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The smartphone it is also central to the trials of new versions of central bank currencies, the so-called Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). The most advanced projects in this area are concentrated in Asian countries, but the European Union has also started work to implement the so-called “digital euro“, and is considering the development of an app that allows it to be used in the shop, in contactless mode or with QR code, and also online.

“However, innovative payments also look beyond the smartphone. In Italy, for example, important innovations can be glimpsed among the services and applications that take advantage of the open APIs, leveraging the smaller number of players involved in these operations and the possibility of having the funds immediately in the merchant’s account” he claims Ivano Asaro, Director of the Innovative Payments Observatory. “Finally, ‘Smart Objects Payment’ are growing globally: especially the so-called smart cars – cars equipped with an Internet connection – are receiving more and more attention from a market which in the United States already sees around 84 million vehicles online and great development potential [5]”.

Innovative Payments

Buy Now Pay Later continues to grow

Among the payment-related services that are arousing more and more interest among consumers there is certainly the buy now Pay Later (BNPL): the growth of 2021 was also confirmed in 2022, contributing significantly to the general increase in digital payments. These are the data: in 2022 BNPL transactions reached 2.3 billion euros, with a growth of +253% compared to 2021. Furthermore, 86% of the value concerns purchases made on the Internet, a result that leads the BNPL to represent around 4% of penetration in the online world [3]. 13% of Italians declare that they have already used this type of service for one or more online and/or in-store purchases, while 33% intend to use it in the future (a percentage that rises to 67% if we also consider the undecided [2]).

2022 was a year of confirmations all over the world for the payments sector: in fact, the growth, in terms of transactions and dissemination, of the most innovative payment methods continues.

innovative payments
Valeria Portal

“The payments sector is also proving to be lively and innovative in our country, demonstrating a clear change in trend: more and more consumers and merchants are choosing these tools every day” he explains Valeria Portal, Director of the Innovative Payments Observatory.Nonetheless, at the end of 2022 the new Italian government adopted a more hesitant approach, in which the threshold where it is not allowed to accept cash payments was raised to 5,000 euros, a strategy in contrast with the current path taken to combat the tax evasion and improve processes and services”.

At European level, attention is growing on digital wallets, with particular attention to the issue of digital identity as an enabler (also, but not only, of payments). The recent revision of the regulation eIDAS is precisely intended to introduce in 2024 the European Union Digital Identity Wallet (EUDI wallet)i.e. a set of certified services that allows users to request, store and share personal information to access online services and sign electronic documents.


[1] This category includes payments based on current accounts and/or electronic money accounts not powered by cards.

[2] Source: CAWI survey conducted by the Innovative Payments Observatory in collaboration with Ipsos in 2022 on 2,000 Italian consumers. [3] Source: Innovative Payments Observatory estimates based on data from the B2c eCommerce Observatory

[4] Source: Statista 2023 estimates

[5] Source: Statista 2023 estimates

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