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The Banking and Financial Ombudsman is an out-of-court settlement scheme for disputes between customers and banks and other financial intermediaries, concerning banking and financial transactions and services. The ABF carries out its tasks and decides disputes as an independent and impartial body, assisted in its work by the Bank of Italy, which runs the technical secretariats for it. It offers a simpler, faster and less expensive alternative to a judicial proceeding.


While the decisions of the Banking and Financial Ombudsman (Arbitro Bancario Finanziario - ABF) are not binding like those of a judge, if an intermediary fails to comply with them such non-compliance is made public. After an ABF decision, the interested party may still have recourse to the courts.


The data in the CR are protected by the rules of professional secrecy and cannot be communicated or shared with third parties, since this information is gathered by the Bank of Italy in its capacity as Authority for Banking Supervision. Only the following parties may access the data:

  • the persons or entities in whose name the information is recorded and the other persons or entities who have the right to access such data
  • intermediaries, for the purposes of assessing their clients’ creditworthiness
  • other supervisory authorities, such as Consob and Ivass, in carrying out their institutional functions
  • judicial authorities within the context of criminal proceedings

Access to CR data is free of charge.

For more detailed information, consult the Bank of Italy’s website in the section: Services for the public/Central Credit Register.


An account that, with the payment of a single fee, may also include other services, such as a safe deposit box, insurance and asset management. Accounts offered as part of a package are either limited transaction accounts, which provide a limited number of free transactions, or unlimited transaction accounts, which offer an unlimited amount of free transactions.


A prepaid card that has an IBAN (International Bank Account Number) associated with it, which means that the card can be used to send and receive credit transfers or to receive SEPA direct debits (see also Prepaid Card).


An intermediary that connects retailers to a payment circuit and allows them to accept payments via POS.

ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution)

The term used internationally to refer to schemes for resolving disputes 'out-of-court' that is those that are 'outside' of the ordinary judicial process. ADR encompasses both 'arbitration', which encourages resolution through the intervention of a third party who arbitrates an agreement between the parties, and 'adjudication' whereby the dispute is resolved by decision of an impartial third-party panel. The ABF (Banking and Financial Ombudsman) is an adjudicative ADR scheme.


The process of gradually paying off a loan through periodic instalment payments made according to a plan called the 'amortization schedule'.


The AOER (Tasso Effettivo Globale Medio or TEGM in Italian) is the rate used for calculating the usury ceiling rate, usury being prohibited by law. It is published on a quarterly basis and indicates the average figure of the rate actually applied by the financial and banking system to similar categories of lending transactions (for example: opening a current account credit facility, personal loans, leasing, factoring and mortgages).

APR Annual Percentage Rate

The APR (Tasso Annuo Effettivo Globale or TAEG in Italian) indicates the total cost of the loan expressed as an annual percentage of the loan granted. It includes interest and all other expenses, making it very useful in comparing the overall cost of other loan offers and in deciding which loan is best suited to one's financial situation. It must always be included in marketing material, in documents relating to the offer, and in the contract. It is calculated using procedures established by law and by the Bank of Italy's instructions.


The disbursement of a mortgage requires processing and formalities, the costs of which are usually reimbursed to the borrower ('arrangement fees).

ATM (Automated Teller Machine)

A terminal for withdrawing cash using a debit or credit card, checking account information or accessing other services.


The Bank of Italy is the national competent authority within the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM) for banks. There are also other authorities that supervise banks and financial intermediaries within their spheres of competence.

  • Consob (Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa per i servizi di investimento) is the companies and stock exchange commission
  • Ivass (Istituto per la Vigilanza sulle Assicurazioni per i servizi assicurativi) is the insurance supervisory authority
  • COVIP (Commissione di vigilanza sui fondi pensione) is the pension fund supervisory authority
  • OAM (Organismo Agenti e Mediatori), is the supervisory authority for financial agents and credit mediation companies
  • Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato is the competition and unfair commercial practices authority
  • Autorità Garante per la protezione dei dati personali, is the data protection authority

A service that makes it possible to make regular payments, such as utility bills and mortgage payments, by automatically debiting the current account (see "Direct debit").