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BonusX: How a new app is taking on Italian bureaucracy

Jessica Lionnel
Jessica Lionnel - [email protected]
BonusX: How a new app is taking on Italian bureaucracy
Large amounts of public funds go unspent in Italy as many people are unable to claim them, or unaware that they can. Photo by Elisa Ventur on Unsplash

Italy's famous mountains of paperwork inspired a Neapolitan duo to create a platform helping people access the financial benefits and 'bonuses' they're entitled to.


It’s no secret that Italian bureaucracy is complicated and often stressful for Italians themselves, as well as for international residents.

From booking appointments at the anagrafe and using registered PEC email to having to get a letter of authorisation from the police if you’ve lost your sim card and want your old number back, getting things done in Italy can truly be described as a mental workout.

READ ALSO: Disappearing PECs: How lost emails can land you with big fines in Italy

Accessing fiscal ‘bonuses’ and financial aid of any type often requires in-person visits to public offices and maybe hiring a professional to help you to figure out the application process (which, obviously, is difficult if you need financial aid in the first place.) Free services like Italy's tax preparation centres (centro assistenza fiscale, or CAF) and the patronato exist too, but they’re usually very busy especially in cities.

There is light at the end of the tunnel though, as entrepreneurs are coming up with technological solutions. 

Milan-based startup BonusX has designed a platform intended to ease the bureaucratic process of accessing these bonuses and benefits, and since launching in January their site has so far helped 350,000 users access a total of €25m in public funds.

READ ALSO: How to use your Italian ID card to access official services online

The platform was founded by Neapolitan entrepreneurs Giovanni Pizza and Fabrizio Pinci, the latter of whom is under the age of 30, and it was recently funded with €3.2m by investors.

“Growing up, and specifically before I just went to university, I had so many classmates who were smart but went straight to work purely because they weren’t informed there were scholarships to help them out,” Pinci tells The Local.

“I was fortunate to understand how things work and to have a supportive family, but not everyone has this chance,” he says.

“We want to create not just an information-driven business, but also one with social impact to break down the barriers that people currently face.”


Even though Italy spends a large amount on social security - equal to roughly 30 percent of national GDP in 2018 - the country also has a sizable amount of non-take-up, which means people often do not benefit from funds and services to which they are entitled.

“Our idea was to create something people use every day to make the world easier,” Pinci says. “BonusX is something new in the public sector which is such a slow sector. We’re the new age.”

The issue of non-take-up, Pinci says, is perhaps proportionately higher amongst international communities.

“We have a good percentage of expats that use the platform,” he says. “It’s useful for them because they don’t have a network. Italians do. They can ask their families. 

“For expats it’s harder because they might not know anyone and simply look online.”

Image: BonusX

Anyone with residency in Italy and an Italian tax code is able to use the BonusX platform. You do not need to be an Italian citizen, though you will need knowledge of the Italian language, as the site is currently only available in Italian. 


For now, the platform is focused on helping people access social security payments, such as pensions, tax credits and rental benefits, including Italy's assegno unico ('single check' child benefit) and reddito di cittadinanza benefit for unemployed people and those on low incomes.

Specific services the platform offers include applying for help with childcare costs, obtaining public transport discounts and accessing support for those with a partita IVA who make less than €8,500 a year.

READ ALSO: 13 ways to make your life in Italy easier without really trying

The BonusX team includes lawyers, accountants and labour consultants, who keep updated with changes to regulations and simplify them. The development team then puts them into algorithms for the users.

To access the information, users create a profile with their family and financial information, and the algorithms show them the services and benefits they’re eligible for. This initial stage is free for users, and the average fixed fee when applying to access funds is 10 euros. 

Image: BonusX

Pinci, who attended the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, says the lack of digitalisation in Italy makes it the perfect starting point for the business. The country was recently rated ‘moderate’ in last year's European Innovation Scoreboard, trailing behind other EU countries such as Germany and France. 

BonusX has ambitions to expand abroad in future, particularly to the US, where they say bureaucracy is similarly complex.


“What you have to know is that this is a widespread issue, not just an Italian one,” Pinci says. “The largest market is the US as they have a huge expenditure in welfare and potentially billions do not get spent due to non-take-up.”

They also want to expand into the private sector, with a focus on scholarships and banking. 

“We integrated 100 services in one year, just in the Italian market. On average there are thousands of benefits in each country,” Pinci says. 

“We have just scratched the surface here, let alone worldwide.”


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