The growth of digital payments in Italy: the numbers of pagoPA

The Public Administration’s digital payment platform is growing exponentially. 2019 marks a significant change of pace: pagoPA services multiply and a state owned company is created to develop and diffuse the platform

Giuseppe Virgone
Team per la Trasformazione Digitale


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From roughly 900,000 transactions in 2016 to over 14 million transactions and almost 2 billion euros handled in 2018, pagoPA is one of the fastest growing enabling platforms in Italy and, along with the National Resident Population Register (ANPR), is one of the pillars on which the digital transformation of Italy is based.

Over the last three years, thanks to the Digital Transformation Team’s initiative, with the support of Agid, the digital payment platform has continued to grow exponentially. This overall positive trend, with a significant acceleration in 2019, is already capable of providing benefits to both citizens and public administrations. Among these benefits: increased simplicity and security of payments and better management of receipts.

The Growth of pagoPA: the Numbers

The numbers clearly indicate that the platform has established itself and is being rapidly adopted into widespread use throughout the country.

By the end of 2016, during pagoPA’s first year of operation, few more than 137,000 transactions passed through the platform. A year later, by the last trimester of 2017, the number had already increased tenfold, reaching over 1,468,000 transactions. (We shared these achievements with you on this Medium post, in which we devised a strategy for an even more aggressive growth trend). The last trimester of 2018 registered 4,682,000 transactions but the real acceleration came in 2019: 7,425,000 transactions completed in the first forty days alone. We expect to finish off the first two months of the year with about 10 million transactions.

In terms of transactions value, pagoPA shows an exponential dimension of growth. In the last trimester of 2016, a total of 41,541,000 euros in payments passed through pagoPA. By the end of 2017, the transactions amounted to 234,379,000 euros, an increase of over 450%. The final trimester of 2018 ended with a value of almost 795,453,000 euros, a further increase of almost 250%. Again, 2019 marked a significant change in pace: 1,108,000 euros in the first forty days of the year, a surge of 725%.

The increase in volume transactions through pagoPA from 2016 to 2018, and the surge during the first months of 2019. To see the daily data updates, see the pagoPA dashboard on the Digital Team website.

The numbers show that in three years, pagoPA has gone from being underused, servicing less than 0.5% of all citizen transactions with the Public Administration, to an indispensable player, with over 6% of transactions completed in 2018 and an expected 20% in 2019.

Reasons for the accelerated growth rate

The explosive growth of pagoPA is the result of several factors, which also explain why we expect the platform’s numbers to continue improving in the upcoming years:

  • Previous government’s’ initiative towards the public sector digitisation, beginning with the appointment of a manager like Diego Piacentini to the position of High Commissioner for the implementation of the Digital Agenda. The appointment of Diego’s successor, Luca Attias, and the changes in the Digital Transformation Team’s organization have contributed to this positive trend, which can be considered a definitive movement to further digitize Italy.
  • The technical skill of the workforce dedicated to the development of the public sector enabling platforms. These skills result not only in a better communication with individual Public Administrations but also in a greater ability to explain the advantages of adopting these platforms.
  • The technological development of pagoPA. In particular, a better online and offline user experience, consistent with market standards, makes it easier for citizens to pay. Furthermore, the use of software houses of improved collaborative tools (open source code and the sharing of technical information on the Designers Italia and Developers Italia platforms) has made it easier to integrate the platform.
  • The support of all payment service providers adhering to the pagoPA node.
  • The positive response of Public Administration’s “central ecosystems” such as the National Revenue Agency, INPS, ACI, INAIL and the administrations of large cities like Milan, Rome or Palermo, which have responded to the government’s initiative by transferring their most critical services to pagoPA.

2019: pagoPA’s turnaround year

Carlo D’Agnolo on Unsplash

These internal and external factors were conducive to a change in direction, heralding the pagoPA’s growth in 2019:

  • As of January 1st of this year, more than 60% of car payments in Italy were completed through pagoPA. This is an extraordinary development for the platform. Our aim is to handle all car payments by the end of 2020, with an expected further surge in the number of transactions.
  • An increasing number of municipalities are choosing pagoPA to manage the payment of traffic fines. Between March and May, the cities of Rome and Milan will start using pagoPA to charge fines (about 5 million transactions total). Managing fines on pagoPA means more savings and better control of revenue, as well as guaranteed payments for citizens, which will finally put an end to the so-called “cartelle pazze” (invalid Notice of Deficiency) and incorrect payment notices.
  • As June 2019, all National Revenue Agency notices will be transmitted through pagoPA. Citizens can already use pagoPA to pay taxes via the Agency’s website.
  • The Bancomat circuit, via the Bancomat Pay app (for both iOS and Android) has recently been added to the payment tools available on pagoPA.
  • The “Decreto Semplificazione” 135, December 14, 2018 provides that all payment service providers (Psp) collecting for the Public Administration must adhere to pagoPA by December 31, 2019.

In addition to these factors, there is another element contributing to platform’s growth; most of the local and central authorities that have already used pagoPA to manage payments for single services, are progressively extending its use to other services. This choice is generating a virtuous circle which promotes the progressive digitization of services and payments.

Increasingly digital payments

The growth of pagoPA is already a driving force towards the digitization of payments in Italy. In 2018, about 36% of payments made with pagoPA were done with either credit or debit card (a total of 670 million euros). This figure is much higher than the national average, where payment cards are used for just over 20% of cases.

This shows that when people have the option of paying online, simply and intuitively, they prefer digital payment. This should further incentivizes Public Administrations to offer more and more online services.

Digital payments made easy, thanks to pagoPA’s smartphone interface

A New Step Forward

Digital payments are one of the cornerstones of the digitization process in Italy. So far, as Digital Team, we have maintained our initial commitment of revitalizing the pagoPA platform.

But we still have a long way to go. For example, the average pagoPA transaction is still only about 190 euros. The data show that the platform does not intercept either micropayments (i.e. public transport, parking or LTZ) or macropayments (like government concession fees or the waste disposal taxes paid by industrial warehouses). In terms of user experience, there is still room for improvement and the mobile experience is still not commonly used, despite the release of a dedicated SDK.

Faced with the rapid growth of pagoPA and to overcome these outstanding challenges, the current Government has decided to take an additional step forward. On February 12, the Decreto Semplificazione (Simplifications Decree) 135, December 14, 2018 was converted into law and published in the Official Gazette. Article 8 recognizes the strategic importance of pagoPA by:

  • Placing pagoPA under direct control of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, which uses the Hight Commissioner for the implementation of the Digital Agenda, if appointed (Paragraph 1);
  • Expanding the use of pagoPA through a state owned company, in charge of managing the further development of the platform and its scaling up (Paragraph 2).

These changes represent a real change in perspective; digital payments are no longer considered a problem to be managed or a cost to be incurred, but an opportunity for the entire public sector. In this same vein, the law confers the management and development of the Project IO to the above mentioned company for the purpose of creating a public service app (see the last post on this subject).

Project IO and pagoPA are two sides of the same coin. A digital payment system allows the development and diffusion of digital services but only the rethinking of services from a digital and mobile first perspective will make it possible for electronic payments to become the definitive means by which citizens make payments to the Public Administration.



Giuseppe Virgone
Team per la Trasformazione Digitale

Digital Payment — CEO di PagoPA SpA — Entrpreneurs, Strategic Payment, Husband and father