No, you did not misread the title. A bank in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region called Credito Emiliano offers loans to small businesses in exchange for a very curious collateral: giant wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
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Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan cheese) is a hard, dry aged cheese made from skim milk and it has a protected designation of origin. In other words, Emilia-Romagna is the only region in the world that can legally use the parmigiano-reggiano name and that means wheels of parmigiano-reggiano that can be worth thousands of dollars, making the cheese a safe bet for banks. So, the regional bank Credito Emiliano accepts the quality Parmesan cheese as collateral for loans, in addition to conventional currencies.
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This regional bank wants to help the local farmers by housing the wheels of parmesan cheese in a local high-security warehouse and aging them in climate-controlled vaults for the duration of the loan. It is known locally that the bank holds some 430,000 wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano.