New ‘Napo’ notes set to boost Naples

New ‘Napo’ notes set to boost Naples
Updated 21 September 2012

New ‘Napo’ notes set to boost Naples

New ‘Napo’ notes set to boost Naples

Naples yesterday announced it was setting up a 70-million-euro ($91-million) gift card system — the “Napo” — which will function as a local currency aimed at boosting small businesses.
“Napos” will be given to shopkeepers, tourists and residents who pay their taxes, entitling bearers to a 10-percent discount for every 10 euros spent.
“The Napo is a gesture of love for our city,” Marco Esposito, a local official in charge of economic issues, told AFP in a phone interview.
He said he hoped the system would “shake up an otherwise feeble economy.”
Prototypes for the new 1, 2, 5 and 10 “Napo” banknotes have been printed with images of the most picturesque sights of the southern Italian city.
Esposito said the new notes are not a real “currency” since they cannot be used on their own but only as a discount when real euros are spent.
The first “Napo” will be used at a ceremony next Saturday but the initiative — one of the biggest such projects in Europe — will be rolled out next year.
The equivalent of 70 million euros in “Napos” will be printed out.
In a city notorious for its counterfeit business and organized crime, Esposito said officials were taking the precaution of numbering the notes so they could be tracked.
Esposito said he believed many of the 100,000 shop owners in the city would volunteer to take part in the project to avoid losing customers and the initiative would apply more widely to services like law offices or gyms.
The city will also organize contests to reward shopkeepers who collect large quantities of “Napos” with urban renewal projects in their neighborhoods.
“Around 30 percent of Neapolitans do their shopping outside of the city. If we can get some of them to do their shopping inside, this would be a real advantage and ‘buying Neapolitan’ would also boost employment,” he said.