Mr. Lottery of clashes Scontrini is called Vincenzo Bacarella, he is 41 years old and was born in Sicily. After 11 years and 7 governments, his idea of ”a game” to encourage Italians to use electronic payments instead of cash when they shop has become a reality. The tax lottery went into effect since the beginning of February, one month behind the announcements, to give merchants more time to adjust.
It is the second attempt, after the false start in November 2009. «We’ll try again. At that time the Minister of Finance was Giulio Tremonti and Silvio Berlusconi was the Prime Minister, ”recalls Bacarella. The government welcomed his gimmick to combat tax evasion, since electronic payments are automatically tracked. How was the idea born? «In 2008, the Carlo Alberto College of Turin launched a competition to collect ideas for the economy, involving young people throughout the country. I was 30 years old, I dealt with computer science in Rome and I answered the call ».
His was an intuition. «I read the announcement and in a couple of hours I wrote my proposal, just a Word page. And I sent it. After 4 or 5 months I received the news that I had won. But there was never a second edition of the competition, because in the meantime the financial crisis had arrived », says Barella who pocketed a prize of 5,000 euros for the victory. But also great media attention, after the Ministry of Finance announced that it wanted to apply its lottery.
«With my proposal I wanted to reconcile one of the most pressing problems of our country, tax evasion, with the passion of Italians for the game. At the time there was a lot of talk about “win for life”, lotteries and “scratch cards”. So I proposed this bottom-up, non-repressive method to bring out the tax base and limit tax evasion, ”he adds.
His background certainly helped him. After graduating in computer science at the University of Pisa, Bacarella worked as a researcher at the CNR of the Tuscan town, a job “abandoned by choice” after just 8 months, to pursue a job in Milan, where he remained only a year. From the Lombard capital he moved to Rome to work as an IT consultant. “I lasted 5 years and then I went home.” Casa is in Balestrate, in the province of Palermo, where Bacarella lives with his wife, who is in charge of marketing for an important Sicilian winery, and two daughters aged 4 and 7. “I’m a so-called south worker. I work all over Italy, but I live in Sicily. I used to travel a lot, now with the pandemic I work remotely. I deal with business processes, I collaborate with large companies ».
Your idea of the receipt lottery? “Exactly how it was implemented today. I suggested taking advantage of the cash register infrastructure. At the time, it wasn’t obvious to be connected, so we would have used paper receipts to participate in an instant lottery. The Ministry of Finance had followed my directions precisely. But nothing came of it. ” For two or three years, the various governments have periodically fished out the proposal, but they did not go beyond the announcements. Only in recent years has there been an acceleration. Like many novelties, it took a long incubation period. So much so that compared to the expected starting date of January 1st, the receipt lottery was postponed for another month at the last minute, but merchants have until April 1st to adapt.
The Italian Federation of public businesses (FIPE), however, argues that the IT updating of home recorders is expensive and represents a further aggravation during the crisis caused by the pandemic. It seems that about half of the exhibitors still have to adapt the home recorder, which requires a software update with the intervention of a specialized technician, at a cost of a few hundred euros.
After 11 years, many things have changed. “At that time the proposal for a tax lottery was carried out essentially to combat tax evasion, today it has other objectives as well. It also aims to counter the dominance of ecommerce by encouraging purchases in stores. In fact, online purchases are not valid », Bacarella reflects. Which, however, criticizes the promotional campaign to launch the initiative. “In terms of communication, the lottery was launched together with the state cash back, creating a lot of confusion among consumers, who have difficulty distinguishing the two initiatives”.
Even the modality seems more complicated than it should. «You need to print a bar code, which will be read by the merchant’s reader, but inside there is only the tax code. Therefore it was enough to use the health card or the electronic identity card, instead of an additional piece of paper to carry around », Bacarella notes. He signed up in December. «No problem for me, I’m used to paying with a contactless mobile phone, I use Google Pay. But I notice it didn’t work out for many transactions. ‘
All initiatives to encourage electronic payments, in order to be successful, in any case must be “accompanied by a drastic lowering of credit card fees, both for consumers and merchants”, he points out. However, in favor of the current implementation Bacarella acknowledges that the receipt lottery promotes the adoption of the Spid, because it is one of the credentials required to access the portal. «The use of the Spid is a fundamental step towards the digitalization of the PA. Furthermore, the promotion of physical stores is positive, because the arrival of Amazon has had a devastating impact on small retailers ». His dream? “A more digital and cashless Italy: in one fell swoop we would eliminate evasion, corruption and mafias, which rely on the use of cash”.
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