The Credem bank in the small northern Italian town of Castelfranco Emilia isn’t your typical financial institution. Not only does it offer loans to its customers, the bank also allows them to use something interesting as collateral - cheese wheels.
Bank manager Paolo Benni says cheese deposits have been made for the last 80 years and that the bank holds about a tenth of the world-famousParmigiano-Reggiano parmesan produced each year.
“Clients deposit their cheese here and the bank gives a loan based on a percentage of its value,” he says.
”If a producer can’t pay back the loan, we can simply sell their cheese we have in storage and recoup our loss."
But the bank also has a culinary interest in the cheese, and helps in the aging process, which usually takes a minimum of 12 months.
Each year, the bank holds about 450,000 cheese wheels in two storage facilities and each wheel can fetch up to 2,700 euros.