Island Pay promotes Fintech education at SUCCESS SUMMIT 2021

Nassau, Bahamas (December 1, 2021): On Saturday, December 4, 2021, Jeffrey Beckles, Managing Director at Island Pay, will speak to high school students about personal budgeting and the growth of fintech in The Bahamas at the 2021 Success Summit. Hubert Edwards, founder of the annual event, will host this virtual inspirational day of learning that will connect its audience with locally based and internationally renowned speakers under the theme “Success Keys to Transform Your World.”

“Financial change is happening worldwide as we speak, and Bahamians, especially our young people, must have the knowledge and the access required to empower them to navigate these systems,” Beckles advised. ““There are over 30,000 high school-age children living throughout The Bahamas. We have to introduce our young people to financial management early in life, and our digital wallets provide an invaluable tool for them. By talking to our children about digital money management tools they will become accustomed to living in the fintech/technology space so that by the time they are adults, they are fully functional in this area. We can change generational patterns of personal financial mismanagement that have plagued much of our society for years.”

In a few short weeks, Island Pay will introduce a wallet ecosystem that will allow parents to upload a specific amount to their child’s digital smartphone wallet which they can use to buy video games, lunch, and other items while learning to manage their budget.

Island Pay is currently running its “Win It Back” holiday campaign, through which 50 Island Pay wallet holders will win 100 per cent cash back on all their purchases made using the reloadable Island Pay prepaid MasterCard from November 15th – December 15, 2021. The digital wallets can be downloaded through the Island Pay app free of charge. The wallets come standard with a virtual reloadable MasterCard and the option is there to purchase a physical card for a small one-time fee of ten dollars.

“Digital payments are the future of our economy, and our lives will be more digitized than any generation before them,” he noted. “Our virtual and physical cards are accepted in over 33 million places around the world where Mastercard is accepted. This opens our worlds, allowing us to shop domestically, regionally, and internationally right from our smartphones. Our young people are indeed our future, and this is the future of our world. The two must come together quickly, so that The Bahamas isn’t left behind. We must introduce both parents and young people to the future and show them what’s possible, then give them the tools and encouragement to participate. This effort needs to be a part of our national plan for economic development.

Beckles added that “The Success Summit is has shown its commitment to community building by investing in our young people, which is an effort that Island Pay Group completely supports. We look forward to creating more exciting partnerships with community organizations as our company grows.”

Island Pay promotes Fintech education at SUCCESS SUMMIT 20212021-12-03T17:00:06-05:00

Sand Dollar CBDC – #1 Most Influential Project of 2021 in Finance

The people and businesses of the Bahamas are spread across roughly 30 islands in the Caribbean—and the nation’s banking system is just as fractured as its geography. With a declining number of brick-and-mortar banks, the government must ship large sums of cash to its smaller islands so businesses and residents can pay their bills. But transporting and managing all that physical currency across a vast area of ocean can get expensive. The process also shuts out some residents from the most basic financial services. And it adds another layer of risk for businesses, leaving their physical money vulnerable to theft.

So the Central bank of The Bahamas launched a four-year project to create and deploy a digital version of the Bahamian dollar. When the Sand Dollar debuted in October 2020, it became the world’s first government-backed, blockchain-based digital currency.

Along with difficulties in moving money around, the Bahamas’ financial system has been further challenged in recent years by economic downturns and natural disasters, said Kimwood Mott, the project manager who led the implementation of Sand Dollar at the Central Bank of the Bahamas, Nassau.

With Sand Dollar, citizens can receive and make payments electronically from a digital wallet using either their mobile phone or a physical payment card they can manage via kiosks across the country. And because it’s issued by a central bank, Sand Dollar has the same financial protections as the country’s legal tender.

Banking on Buy-in

Unlike cryptocurrencies that are decentralized and anonymous, central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are extensions of government-issued fiat currency. That made developing and launching Sand Dollar a highly complex endeavor that required buy-in from myriad entities.

“This is a special project because while we at the Central Bank are building out the core payment platform, we do have some integration with other financial institutions and other major financial players, such as the government, commercial banks, clearinghouses and the like,” Mott said. “They had to do their part as well.”

After launching the project in 2018, the team began a pilot in 2019 using 48,000 Sand Dollars on the islands of Exuma and Abaco, which have a combined population of fewer than 25,000 people. But as the team got closer to scaling nationwide, the project began to hit roadblocks with stakeholders.

The Central Bank’s first challenge was convincing commercial banks, credit unions, payment service providers (PSPs) and money transmission businesses to become authorized financial institutions (AFIs) within the Sand Dollar network.

“Not every institution initially joined and wanted to be an early adopter of Sand Dollar,” said Mott.

Some institutions perceived Sand Dollar as a threat to traditional banking services—a deposit alternative that might draw resources out of banks and other financial institutions. The team had to educate those stakeholders “to ensure that they recognized that what we were doing was something that should enhance the financial industry rather than undermine what it was they were trying to accomplish with their business model,” Mott said.

To get its message out, the Central Bank conducted personal outreach to financial institutions and general outreach through the media and chambers of commerce.

PSPs were among the first to bite.

“We weren’t really sure what the plan was,” said Richard Douglas, co-founder and CEO of Island Pay, a Bahamian digital payment platform that facilitates cashless payments to merchants and consumers. Initially, he said, Island Pay leaders were concerned that Sand Dollar would be transacted in a digital wallet that would compete with the company’s own services. “[The Central Bank] clarified their position—essentially, they’re minters of the currency and encouraging all licensed financial institutions to transact in Sand Dollar. So we embraced that idea and worked with them to integrate their APIs into our platform.”

That wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Island Pay had to upgrade its infrastructure to support real-time transactions, enhance security and support contingencies in case of natural disasters.

“Our merchant devices, for example, use SIM cards from both of our local mobile carriers, so if the power goes off or the internet goes down, those devices generally will stay online,” Douglas said.

By decoupling project components and breaking development into sprints, Island Pay was able to accelerate progress enough to launch its Sand Dollar services six months after the Central Bank.

Ready, Set … Not Yet

Not all AFIs were prepared for the debut of Sand Dollar. Although the Central Bank planned to launch the currency with six AFIs, only two were ready to go to market on time. Planning failures, resource shortages and technical challenges bogged down the rest as they developed their own proprietary applications for transacting with Sand Dollars. Meanwhile, the Central Bank had already begun promoting and marketing Sand Dollar to Bahamians.

“We had to really pull back on our communication,” Mott said. “Demand at the time was high, but availability was low. That was a big challenge that sort of blindsided us.”

The solution? The Central Bank took a more hands-on approach with laggard AFIs, keeping tabs on their respective development life cycles and incentivizing progress, said Mott. The Central Bank established a new benchmark of midyear 2021 to coincide with the planned adoption of Sand Dollar by the Bahamian government, which was working on its own digitization project. That initiative would see Sand Dollar as an accepted means of payment and disbursements and a replacement for traditionally cash-only transactions.

“The way we messaged it was: The government is the biggest distributor of cash in the economy and one of the largest collectors of cash in the economy,” Mott said. “If your financial institution is not a part of that ecosystem when it decides to convert, it will sacrifice market share to early adopters.”

That messaging resonated: By September 2021, five AFIs had brought their apps to market.

Scaling Up

Next, the team must scale the system across all islands by building the necessary infrastructure and continuing to educate citizens and merchants who either don’t trust or don’t understand digital currency.

To speed up the transition, Island Pay issues point-of-sale devices to merchants so they can accept digital payments and operates a network of physical kiosks where users can convert physical cash into digital currency.

Internet access is an issue on some islands. No internet means no Sand Dollar transactions for merchants or residents, Mott said. To fix that, the Central Bank is collaborating with the government to plan initiatives like free Wi-Fi on the Family Islands.

“These are things we have to recognize will be barriers to a CBDC being properly adopted in certain districts,” Mott said. “So in those districts where we find some technical challenges, we want to make sure we go in and do an assessment and, if need be, provide local assistance.”

Visitors must become part of the solution, too. The Central Bank foresees a future when Sand Dollar is fully integrated into the Bahamas’ tourism industry, including hotels, taxis, cruise ships, tour operators and attractions. Tourists want the security and convenience of credit cards, Mott said, but often can’t use them outside of large resorts. Sand Dollar will provide a way to transact with independent, locally owned business on Family Islands—providing a win-win for tourists and locals.

Sand Dollar’s impact could have a global reach as well, unlocking lessons learned for countries like China and Sweden, which are testing digital currencies, and for Silicon Valley giants like Facebook that have encountered false starts on the way to launching their own cryptocurrencies.

Sand Dollar’s success has already led to global partnerships. In February 2021, Island Pay teamed up with Mastercard to release a prepaid card that allows users to convert Sand Dollars into traditional Bahamian dollars for use wherever the card is accepted.

“Your average guy … can now go get a credit card and buy something on Amazon—which he wasn’t able to do a year ago,” Douglas said.

 

Sand Dollar CBDC – #1 Most Influential Project of 2021 in Finance2021-10-22T12:47:43-04:00

Island Pay and Bahama Eats partner to make Sand Dollar the world’s first Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) to be used for national payroll

(Nassau, Bahamas – October 4, 2021) Island Pay, one of the world’s leading digital currency technology companies, and Bahama Eats, the country’s largest on-demand food delivery service, have announced a partnership that will see The Bahamas Sand Dollar become the world’s first CBDC to be used for payroll.

In this ground-breaking new initiative, all Bahamas Eats employees will be paid in the Sand Dollar, the world’s first central bank backed digital currency, through the Island Pay digital wallet.

“At Island Pay, we are proud to work with an innovative partner like Bahama Eats on what we believe is a major step in the global advancement of central bank backed digital currencies,” says Richard Douglas, co-founder at Island Pay. “Island Pay is all about democratizing access to money. Evolving our technology to be used for payroll payments represents the next stage in the evolution of the digital wallet and CBDCs.”

“In an era where cost savings, efficiency and conservation of time are more critical, partnering with Island Pay for our payroll needs was the obvious choice,” says Gershwin Greene, Founder and Managing Director of Bahama Eats. “Using our employees’ digital wallets to pay their salaries into provides us with the ability to give them immediate access to their monies while relieving us of traditional administration costs and resources. Ultimately, it’s more time for us to focus on our customers and in ways to continue to innovate to meet their growing needs.”

With the onset of the digital transformation many more Bahamian consumers and businesses are looking for ways to adapt and make use of digital wallets as a part of their everyday life. Payroll solutions such as this are secure, convenient and saves businesses money in traditional bank fees and countless hours in back-end administration.

“As Bahama Eats gets ready to expand into the region, the Bahamas experience will go a long way in helping us develop this and other models for our business partners in the Caribbean and around the world,” added Douglas.

Island Pay and Bahama Eats partner to make Sand Dollar the world’s first Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) to be used for national payroll2021-10-22T12:37:13-04:00

The Tribune – Digital Provider Targets $100m In Payments

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

[email protected]


A Bahamian digital payments provider yesterday said it expects to increase the collective value of transactions it processes by 67 percent this year to $100m as it unveiled a “world first”.

Jeffrey Beckles, Island Pay’s managing director, told Tribune Business that its partnership with Mastercard had created the “world’s first central bank digital currency” credit/debit card that will launch this Spring alongside the Sand Dollar’s roll-out.

The digital provider, which last year processed $60m worth of payments including unemployment benefits on behalf of the government and National Insurance Board (NIB), said the card will allow Bahamian consumers to use the Bahamian digital currency and traditional notes interchangeably.

Mr Beckles said the card’s roll-out will give Bahamians greater “flexibility and convenience” when engaging in transactions both at home and abroad, and voiced confidence that both consumer and merchant will see a reduction in transaction fees as a result.

Island Pay, which already has 20,000 digital wallet holder customers, is providing the technology platform while Mastercard is lending its brand, credibility and worldwide presence to boost Bahamian consumer confidence in using the card.

“We have been diligently working on this for the past 18 months,” Mr Beckles said, describing the card’s development as “a giant step” that shows The Bahamas is serious about establishing its presence in the digital payments space.

“I think consumers will have greater flexibility in using the Sand Dollar, and merchants will have increased opportunities as the Sand Dollar will be the dollar that Bahamians use to trade. We had to figure out how to take this digital currency and make it more versatile. We see this as a giant step in the global advancement of a Central Bank digital currency.”

Mr Beckles said Bahamians will be able to use Sand Dollars, the Central Bank-backed digital currency, to conduct online transactions with the likes of Amazon, Wal-Mart and Target. “It will be accepted around the world wherever Mastercard is accepted,” he added of the card, “and that’s a pretty broad range for Bahamians to shop.

“This is a pretty big step in global recognition that The Bahamas is taking a bold step to become part of the global digital community. If you’re going to do business, whether a consumer or merchant, this will help create the platform needed to achieve that objective.”

The Island Pay chief said he was “very confident” that consumers and merchants will “be paying a lot less than they are now” in transaction and settlement fees as a result of its Mastercard tie-up and digital currency, adding: “We’re very confident that it’s going to be felt and experienced in a real positive way.”

Island Pay and Mastercard, in a joint statement, said the Bahamas Sand Dollar prepaid card gives people the option to instantly convert the digital currency to traditional Bahamian dollars and pay for goods and services anywhere Mastercard is accepted.

John Rolle, the Central Bank’s governor, said in a statement: “We welcome this approach to combining digital currency use with access to foreign currency and other payment outlets. The Central Bank of The Bahamas will continue to encourage fintech developments that tie into the Sand Dollar infrastructure, while allowing us to satisfy best global practices for regulation of the space.”

Richard Douglas, co-founder of Island Pay, added: “By working closely with the Central Bank of The Bahamas and Mastercard, we are able to issue a pre-paid card unlike any other in the world. We are now able to bring immediate, critical benefits to our customers at a time when they are looking to find new, innovative ways to pay.

“The Bahamas is leading innovation in Central Bank digital currencies, and we’re thrilled to be able to play an important role in helping to democratise access to currency, especially in areas that are currently underserved.”

The Tribune – Digital Provider Targets $100m In Payments2021-03-03T06:47:54-05:00

Caribbean central banks forge ahead with digital currencies

Robin Arnfield


Two Caribbean central banks have introduced central bank digital currencies, overtaking developed countries which are still at the investigation stage. An underbanked sparse population, spread over many islands, makes the Caribbean an ideal test case for CBDCs, which promise lower transaction fees and economic growth, Robin Arnfield reports

The world’s first live CBDC, the Sand Dollar, was launched by the Central Bank of the Bahamas in October 2020, while the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) is preparing to launch its DCash CBDC following a pilot.

In July 2020, the Bank of Jamaica formally invited interested CBDC providers to develop and test potential CBDC solutions in its fintech regulatory sandbox. In addition, the Netherlands Antilles islands of Curaçao and St. Maarten are in an R&D phase for CBDC. The Governor of the Central Bank of Barbados, Cleviston Haynes, said in July 2020 (http://www.centralbank.org.bb/news/article/9928/toward-increased-efficiency-in-payments-systems) that his country’s central bank is conducting research into CBDCs.

Not to be confused with decentralised borderless cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, CBDCs are digital legal tender issued by central banks, reflecting a country’s existing fiat legal tender in a 1:1 ratio.

According to a January 2021 survey by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), 86% of central banks are exploring the benefits and drawbacks of CBDCs.

Countries developing CBDCs include Sweden, Cambodia, and China, whose central bank expanded its digital renminbi pilot to the three largest Chinese urban regions in August 2020.

Why the Caribbean?

There are various reasons why central banks in the Caribbean would adopt digital currencies ahead of larger central banks. The islands have low financial inclusion levels; high cash usage; high costs of current payment methods and banking services; inadequate banking services; and inefficient payment systems resulting in slow electronic transfers and settlement.

By contrast, CBDCs offer consumers 24×7 accessibility and faster, simpler payments, and increase economic participation among all sectors of society, said Simon Chantry, CIO of Barbados-based fintech Bitt, which supplied the technology for the ECCB’s project. “These (CBDC) systems offer merchants lower payment processing fees than traditional mechanisms, and, since the transaction also constitutes the settlement, payments can be received instantly,” he said. “When merchants receive digital currency for goods and services, they can spend it immediately.”

Tracey Walker, a senior financial consultant with advisory firm Cartan Group, said the Caribbean central banks recognise the economic benefits to be gained from CBDCs, not least the ability to reduce the transaction fees that apply to traditional payment rails. “The Caribbean region has gained significant traction on the CBDC scene when considering its size compared to global players,” she said.

Reducing the cost of moving cash is a key advantage offered by CBDC in the Caribbean. It is expensive for the ECCB and the Central Bank of the Bahamas to distribute cash to the various islands in their jurisdictions, as cash has to be flown out to the islands, said Gwenn Bézard, research director at US-based Aite Group.

Yvette Bohanan, education engagement manager at US-based Glenbrook Consulting, also pointed to the logistical difficulties of handling cash in the Caribbean. “CBDCs provide an opportunity for retail banks to increase reach into communities where bank branch locations and cash distribution can be challenging and expensive,” she said. “By lowering the costs associated with cash management, banks could direct resources to deepening financial inclusion and adding attractive services to the CBDC digital wallet for their expanded customer base.”

“Glenbrook’s perspective is that there is broad, conceptual support for CBDCs across the ECCU, shaped by the common goals of financial inclusion, increased efficiency in managing currency, making payments systems more efficient – less expensive to manage for the banks, faster and safer for consumers – and improved monitoring to prevent illicit activities,” said Bohanan. “There is also consensus on these goals in the other Caribbean countries which are actively pursuing CBDCs.”

It is not intended that CBDCs replace banks and cash in the Caribbean. “Our current research indicates that cash currencies will coexist with CBDCs for some period of time,” said Bohanan.

While the ECCB’s and Central Bank of the Bahamas’ CBDC initiatives are being rolled out as stand-alone solutions, there are plans to integrate them with mainstream incumbent banking infrastructure, said Francesco Burelli, a consulting partner at advisory firm Arkwright. “This would maximise the reach and utilisation of the CBDCs,” he said. “The ECCB and Central Bank of the Bahamas’ CBDC initiatives will benefit from these central banks’ ability to control the money supply, oversee transactions ensuring auditability, and requiring KYC compliance to be observed when opening digital currency accounts.”

Central bank digital currency architecture

According to the BIS, there are three CBDC models: direct, hybrid, and indirect.

1) Direct CBDC – a payment system operated by a central bank, which offers retail CBDC services. A CBDC is a direct claim on the central bank. The central bank maintains the ledger of all transactions and executes retail payments. Intermediaries or the central bank onboard users;

2) Hybrid CBDC – intermediaries onboard users and handle retail payments, but the CBDC is a direct claim on the central bank, which keeps a central ledger of all transactions;

3) Indirect CBDC – the central bank issues CBDC tokens to intermediaries, which onboard users and handle payments. Users have claims on these intermediaries, which back up all liabilities to retail clients with claims on the central bank.

The Central Bank of the Bahamas’ Sand Dollar (www.SandDollar.bs) is tied to the Bahamian dollar.

A pilot of the CBDC took place in 2019 on the Bahamas islands of Exuma and Abaco, which have a combined population of 25,000.

Fully available to all the Bahamas’ 393,000 residents since October 2020, the Sand Dollar is backed by a digital payments infrastructure designed by fintech firm NZIA (https://nzia.io/pr/central-bank-of-the-bahamas/), which also provided the CBDC technology. The central bank is also working with US-based CBDC specialist Emtech.

In February 2021, Mastercard said it had partnered with the central bank and Island Pay (https://www.electronicpaymentsinternational.com/news/island-pay-digital-cash-bahamas/), a Bahamas-based mobile wallet provider, to launch the Bahamas Sand Dollar prepaid card. The card allows users to instantly convert Sand Dollars to traditional Bahamian dollars and spend on goods and services anywhere Mastercard is accepted. Island Pay, which enables users to transact in Sand Dollars or Bahamian dollars at merchants via its mobile wallet, will issue the new Bahamas Sand Dollar prepaid card.

The Sand Dollar is designed to enable the Bahamian government to better manage the impact of hurricanes by providing digital distribution of financial relief instead of cash aid to its citizens. The CBDC is also intended to help provide financial services to the more remote of the Bahamas’ 300 plus islands and islets.

Sand Dollars are issued by the central bank to interoperable digital wallets held by an initial tranche of six licensed money-transfer and payment firms. Through these digital wallets, consumers and businesses can access, hold, and spend Sand Dollars via a mobile app. Three other companies, including a bank and a credit union, are expected to complete cybersecurity testing in early 2021, after which they will be able to provide their customers with Sand Dollar wallets.

Sand Dollars can be held in three tiers of authorised accounts:

1) Low-value personal wallets with a B$500 wallet holding limit and a B$1,500 monthly transaction limit. Government-issued identification isn’t an enrolment requirement, and the wallets cannot link to bank accounts.

2) B$5,000 wallet holding limit, with a B$10,000 monthly transaction limit. Government-issued identification is required for enrolment, and the wallets can be linked to bank accounts.

3) Business or enterprise accounts, subject to further KYC rigour and subject to higher limits for CBDC transactions and holdings.

Accounts holding Sand Dollars don’t use a distributed ledger, but are instead held at the Central Bank of the Bahamas. The central bank maintains the ledger of all individual holdings of the digital currency, according to Glenbrook’s Bohanan.

The Eastern Caribbean

In March 2019, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB), launched a pilot of DCash (https://www.eccb-centralbank.org/p/about-the-project), a digital blockchain-based version of the Eastern Caribbean Dollar.

The ECCB is the monetary authority for the East Caribbean currency union (ECCU) operated by the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Anguilla, and Montserrat. The islands have a combined population of 620,000.

DCash is intended to be used for payments between consumers and merchants and P2P transfers using smart devices. Its objectives are to increase opportunities for financial inclusion; to reduce the region’s use of cash and cheques, which account for about 80% of all ECCU payments; and to address the relatively high cost of current payment methods and banking services, and the inadequacy of banking services in addressing customers’ needs.

As part of its payments modernisation plans, between 2019 and 2025 the ECCB is targeting a 50% reduction in cash usage, an 80% reduction in cheque usage, and 40-60% growth in the use of credit and debit cards and electronic payment systems, according to Trinidad and Tobago Newsday (https://newsday.co.tt/2020/06/11/eccb-charts-a-digital-future/). However, the ECCB doesn’t intend to eliminate cash.

The DCash pilot’s first phase involved internal development and testing, followed by initial implementation during 2020 in Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and St. Kitts and Nevis. In February 2021, the ECCB said that it was preparing for the public launch of the pilot in the coming weeks in these four island territories. “We’re now on the cusp of the public launch of DCash,” Timothy N. J. Antoine, the ECCB’s governor, said in a statement.

“The ECCB has indicated its intention to roll out DCash in all the ECCU territories once the six-month pilot in Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and St. Kitts and Nevis is complete,” said Bitt’s Chantry.

The ECCB has been issuing and distributing DCash to licensed banks and non-bank registered agents in the ECCU for distribution to the digital wallets of registered users as part of its closed pilot. “In the next few weeks, the ECCB will work with registered FIs, merchants and agents to achieve full readiness for the public rollout in Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Saint Lucia,” the ECCB.

DCash uses a permissioned and private blockchain platform based on IBM Hyperledger Fabric and built by Bitt (www.bitt.com) using its Digital Currency Management System.

In February 2021, Bitt, in partnership with the ECCB, executed the first successful retail consumer-to-merchant transaction using DCash. The transaction, which marks the final stage before DCash’s public pilot launch, took place at Geo F. Huggins’ Foodland on the island of Grenada.

“Bitt’s Digital Currency Management System includes the critical digital infrastructure and software needed by central banks and participating financial institutions to issue and operate their own digital currency,” said Chantry. “The Bitt software suite is designed to integrate into traditional financial, banking and payment systems. Bitt also provides the software for FIs, businesses and merchants to integrate digital currency within their business operations for a variety of transaction types.”

According to Aite Group’s Bézard, 16 banks are involved in the pilot. “The ECCB is more engaged with the ECCU banks regarding involvement in DCash than the Central Bank of the Bahamas is with the banks in its jurisdiction regarding the Sand Dollar,” he said.

Currently, participating banks are reaching out to their merchant clients to invite them to participate in the DCash pilot. In addition, participating banks are inviting consumers who hold bank accounts with them to take part in DCash by sending them a code for use with the DCash app. The banks then use their existing knowledge of their customers as KYC for onboarding them to DCash.

Unbanked consumers or people whose FI isn’t participating in the pilot, can obtain DCash accounts from registered agents. They provide the agent with their name, address and government photo ID, which they upload to the DCash app.

Consumers participating in the pilot can make purchases and instantly transfer money using DCash for free to family, friends and businesses within the ECCU without needing bank accounts. To acquire DCash in their DCash wallet, users deposit cash at participating merchants and approved service providers such as financial institutions, or convert funds from their bank account at pilot-participating FIs.

To make merchant payments or perform P2P transfers, users scan the merchant’s or recipient’s QR code with their smartphone, which populates their DCash wallet with the merchant/recipient’s ID and the amount of the transaction. Senders can also manually enter the recipient’s ID and transaction amount in their DCash app.

In March 2020, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned that the ECCB should proceed with caution in developing DCash. While the monetary policy implications of a CBDC would be limited due to the ECCU’s fixed exchange rate regime, safeguards need to be implemented to counter risks relating to financial intermediation, financial integrity, and cybersecurity, the IMF said.

Jamaica

The Bank of Jamaica is actively exploring the introduction of a CBDC. In July 2020, the central bank invited interested CBDC providers to develop and test potential CBDC solutions in its fintech regulatory sandbox. The sandbox provides a controlled environment where fintech innovations can be tested for viability while ensuring adequate consumer protection and data privacy before rollout in Jamaica.

The central bank said that, if a viable CBDC is adopted and introduced in Jamaica, the anticipated benefits include increased financial inclusion, as it will provide another means of efficient and secured payments. For deposit-taking institutions, CBDC presents an opportunity to improve cash management processes and costs, it said.

Cartan Group’s Walker wrote in a blog : “This project is interesting as (the Bank of Jamaica) announced the use case will cover both wholesale and retail systems, meaning the CBDC will be implemented from the central bank right down to the general public, as a means of payment.”

Caribbean central banks forge ahead with digital currencies2021-03-03T06:46:05-05:00

Mastercard, Island Pay launch first digital currency prepaid card

Mastercard and Island Pay have partnered to give users an additional option to use The Bahamian Sand Dollar — the world’s first central bank digital currency (CBDC).


Held together by the Central Bank of The Bahamas, the prepaid card will enable people to instantly convert the digital currency to traditional Bahamian dollars and pay for goods and services anywhere Mastercard is accepted on the islands and around the world.

Originally piloted in 2019, the Sand Dollar became the first fully deployed digital version of a country’s fiat currency in October 2020. At that time, the Sand Dollar was exclusively accessed by registered users through a digital app provided by local payment service provider Island Pay at select merchants.

There are 700 small islands in The Bahamas, covering more than 5,000 square miles of water.

It has become costly to move cash, which makes a CBDC a preferred digital payment in the region.

“We welcome this approach to combining digital currency use with access to foreign currency and other payment outlets. The Central Bank of The Bahamas will continue to encourage fintech developments that tie into the Sand Dollar infrastructure, while allowing us to satisfy best global practices for regulation of the space,” said John Rolle, governor of the Central Bank of The Bahamas.

Furthermore, executive vice-president at Mastercard Raj Dhamodharan praised the project’s results, and indicated that this initiative represented just the tip of the iceberg, as 2021 has already seen Mastercard and other industry leaders like Visa partner with innovative fintechs to chart new paths in digital payments, including Paymentology, CleverCards, and Joompay.

“This partnership is an example of how the private and public sector can rethink what’s possible, while delivering the strongest levels of consumer protection and regulatory compliance. We’re creating a lot more possibilities for governments, shoppers, and merchants, allowing them to transact in an entirely new form of payment,” he said.

In the future, the Sand Dollar will be offered to tourists.

Mastercard, Island Pay launch first digital currency prepaid card2021-02-21T19:28:12-05:00

Mastercard and Island Pay launch first digital currency card

Finance giant Mastercard has teamed up with Island Pay to deliver a world first: a digital currency-linked payment card backed by a central bank


Held together by Central Bank of The Bahamas, the collaboration will enable people to use an official digital currency called ‘The Bahamas Sand Dollar’ for purchases via a prepaid card.

Transactions carried out with the card are automatically converted from digital to fiat currency and will be legal tender for goods and services on the islands (of which there are 700), as well as around the world.

It is hoped that the Sand Dollar will create a more financially inclusive economy, promote more diverse purchasing methods, and facilitate government disbursements. The same value and protections will apply as the Bahamas’ traditional currency.

Modernising payments in the Bahamas

The Sand Dollar was originally trialled in 2019 and went on to become the first digital incarnation of a national currency in circulation late last year.

Mastercard’s virtual testing environment allowed developers to chart the issuance, distribution and exchange of the Sand Dollar in a simulated environment prior to its real rollout.

Island Pay’s role was to combine Mastercard’s technology and operational breadth with its own platform, which has been revolutionising payment solutions in the Caribbean through lower costs and higher quality service since it was founded in 2018.

“By working closely with the Central Bank of The Bahamas and Mastercard, we are able to issue a prepaid card unlike any other in the world. We are now able to bring immediate, critical benefits to our customers at a time when they are looking to find new, innovative ways to pay,” said Richard Douglas, Co-Founder.

“The Bahamas is leading innovation in CBDCs (central bank digital currencies), and we’re thrilled to be able to play an important role in helping to democratise access to currency, especially in areas that are currently underserved.”

The shape of digital payments to come

2021 has already seen Mastercard and other industry leaders like Visa partner with innovative fintechs to chart new paths in digital payments, including Paymentology, CleverCards, and Joompay.

Although digital versions of fiat currency are beginning to emerge globally, the pioneering work taking place in the Bahamas, which unites central banking and payments so holistically could give an indication of finance’s future everywhere.

“We welcome this approach to combining digital currency use with access to foreign currency and other payment outlets. The Central Bank of The Bahamas will continue to encourage fintech developments that tie into the Sand Dollar infrastructure, while allowing us to satisfy best global practices for regulation of the space,” stated John Rolle, Governor.

Furthermore, Raj Dhamodharan, Executive VP at Mastercard, praised the project’s results and intimated that this represented just the tip of iceberg:

“This partnership is an example of how the private and public sector can rethink what’s possible, while delivering the strongest levels of consumer protection and regulatory compliance. We’re creating a lot more possibilities for governments, shoppers and merchants, allowing them to transact in an entirely new form of payment.”

Image credit: Island Pay

Mastercard and Island Pay launch first digital currency card2021-02-18T09:12:43-05:00

Island Pay and Mastercard launch world’s first
Sand Dollar-linked card

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Mastercard and digital payment solutions provider Island Pay yesterday announced the launch of the world’s first Central Bank digital currency-linked card.

Island Pay Managing Director Jeffrey Beckles told Eyewitness News: “We have been working diligently with the Central Bank with the Sand Dollar project. We wanted to support the governor’s vision of creating financial inclusion for every Bahamian and this is one of those areas we felt good supporting.

Island Pay Managing Director Jeffrey Beckles.

“Island Pay developed its mobile wallet and now we are taking things to the next step to ensure that Bahamians have access not only to the digital wallet but also Mastercard, with the ability to conduct transaction in Bahamian and US dollars.”

He added: “It’s important to note that we are the first in the sector to provide usability support for Sand Dollar.”

The arrangement with Mastercard gives users an additional option to use the Sand Dollar — a digital version of Bahamian currency. The Bahamas Sand Dollar prepaid card gives users the option to instantly convert the digital currency to traditional Bahamian dollars and pay for goods and services anywhere Mastercard is accepted in The Bahamas and around the world.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Mastercard and digital payment solutions provider Island Pay yesterday announced the launch of the world’s first Central Bank digital currency-linked card.

Island Pay Managing Director Jeffrey Beckles told Eyewitness News: “We have been working diligently with the Central Bank with the Sand Dollar project. We wanted to support the governor’s vision of creating financial inclusion for every Bahamian and this is one of those areas we felt good supporting.

According to Beckles, Island Pay has 20,000 active wallet holders.

“We believe that number will grow. We [see] some significant growth ahead,” said Beckles.

He further noted that the MasterCard arrangement signals significant confidence in the Central Bank and Island Pay.

“Mastercard is a global brand and highly respected payments and technology company. For Mastercard to demonstrate this level of confidence, that is a really big deal for The Bahamas and Island Pay,” said Beckles.

“It speaks to the possibilities of Bahamians partnering with global entities to move the needle in The Bahamas. We are living in a very innovative world. There are a lot of talented and gifted Bahamians who have been working on the Island Pay team.”

https://ewnews.com/author/natariom

Island Pay and Mastercard launch world’s first
Sand Dollar-linked card
2021-02-18T08:40:20-05:00

Mastercard and Island Pay Launch World’s First Central Bank Digital Currency-Linked Card

Collaboration of Mastercard, Central Bank of The Bahamas and Island Pay gives people additional option to use The Bahamas Sand Dollar central bank digital currency

PURCHASE, N.Y. & NASSAU, Bahamas–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today, Bahamians received even greater flexibility in how they shop and pay using the country’s digital currency, the first of its kind. Under a new program from Mastercard and Island Pay, the Bahamas Sand Dollar prepaid card gives people the option to instantly convert the digital currency to traditional Bahamian dollars and pay for goods and services anywhere Mastercard is accepted on the Islands and around the world.


“This partnership is an example of how the private and public sector can rethink what’s possible, while delivering the strongest levels of consumer protection and regulatory compliance. We’re creating a lot more possibilities for governments, shoppers and merchants, allowing them to transact in an entirely new form of payment.”

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The digital Sand Dollar is issued by the Central Bank of The Bahamas and carries the same value and consumer protections as a traditional Bahamian dollar. The digital currency can be used to facilitate government disbursements, offer additional payment choices and build a more inclusive economy. In The Bahamas, there are 700 small islands and more than 5000 square miles of water. Cash money movement becomes costly, which makes a central bank digital currency (CBDC) a preferred digital payment in the region. In the future, the Sand Dollar will be offered to tourists.

Originally piloted in 2019, the Sand Dollar became the first fully- deployed digital version of a country’s fiat currency in October 2020. At that time, the Sand Dollar was exclusively accessed by registered users through a digital app at select merchants. Island Pay mobile wallet users can decide if they want to transact in Sand Dollars or Bahamian dollars at merchants using the mobile app.

Activating the Latest Technologies

Mastercard’s innovative work with CBDCs supports governments around the world as they explore, test and deploy real-life use cases across existing payment rails. Its virtual testing environment enables the simulation of issuance, distribution and exchange of CBDCs between banks, financial service providers and people.

Island Pay’s technology platform, combined with Mastercard technology and wide merchant acceptance, has the potential to help reduce the operational distribution costs of cash and modernize the overall payments system in The Bahamas.

Central Bank of The Bahamas Governor, John Rolle, said: “We welcome this approach to combining digital currency use with access to foreign currency and other payment outlets. The Central Bank of The Bahamas will continue to encourage fintech developments that tie into the Sand Dollar infrastructure, while allowing us to satisfy best global practices for regulation of the space.”

Richard Douglas, co-founder of Island Pay, said: “By working closely with the Central Bank of The Bahamas and Mastercard, we are able to issue a prepaid card unlike any other in the world. We are now able to bring immediate, critical benefits to our customers at a time when they are looking to find new, innovative ways to pay. The Bahamas is leading innovation in CBDCs, and we’re thrilled to be able to play an important role in helping to democratize access to currency, especially in areas that are currently underserved.”

Mastercard’s Innovation in Digital Currencies and New Forms of Payment

As part of its long-term strategy to enable all types of payments – card, ACH and blockchain-based – Mastercard has invested in the technology to be ready to explore and enable both CBDCs and privately issued stablecoins in partnership with governments, banks and fintechs. With 89 blockchain patents globally, and an additional 285 blockchain applications pending worldwide, Mastercard already has one of the payment industry’s largest blockchain patent portfolios to draw from.

The company recently announced that it plans to support select digital currencies directly on its network, giving choice and flexibility to people and merchants. Each program will be evaluated against the principles Mastercard has established to guide its activities in this space.

Through a dedicated crypto card program, Mastercard helps its digital currency partners accelerate their development efforts, from design and market entry to growth and global expansion. As a result, the jointly-created solutions have an ability to enable a more inclusive economy. If a consumer wants to spend their holdings, Mastercard enables this through our crypto partnerships including Wirex, Uphold, BitPay, and most recently, LVL.

Raj Dhamodharan, executive vice president of Digital Asset & Blockchain Products & Partnerships at Mastercard, said: “This partnership is an example of how the private and public sector can rethink what’s possible, while delivering the strongest levels of consumer protection and regulatory compliance. We’re creating a lot more possibilities for governments, shoppers and merchants, allowing them to transact in an entirely new form of payment.”

About Mastercard (NYSE:MA):

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. Our decency quotient, or DQ, drives our culture and everything we do inside and outside of our company. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.

About Island Pay:

Island Pay, founded in 2016, is quickly revolutionizing the way people across the Caribbean and Latin America use and access money. Through its innovative technology and strategic partnerships with governments and a network of merchants, Island Pay allows individuals, businesses and governments to easily and securely pay for goods and services as well as send, transfer and receive funds electronically using their mobile phones and other low-cost access mediums. Island Pay was the first to receive a license as a Payment Service Provider and Electronic Money Institution by the Central Bank of The Bahamas, and is currently handling tens of millions of dollars of transactions for the Government of Bahamas. Island Pay is driven by a passion to democratize access to currency, especially in areas that are currently underserved or lack accessible financial services infrastructure.

More information about Island Pay can be found on islandpay.com.

Mastercard and Island Pay Launch World’s First Central Bank Digital Currency-Linked Card2021-02-17T09:07:56-05:00

Island Pay Facilitates NIB GovUEBex Payments

Island Pay is working with the NIB to distribute payments through its digital wallet

Nassau, July 21, 2020: Island Pay, the Bahamas-based electronic money mobile payment service provider is assisting the National Insurance Board (NIB) in the launch of its new online portal Government-funded Unemployment Benefit Extension (GovUEBex) Program.

People who received NIB Unemployment Benefit payments via cheque, for any reason, during the COVID-19 shutdown period, will receive extension payments via the Island Pay Digital Wallet.

Using the Island Pay wallet involves a user-friendly three step process of downloading the app, registering and verifying your identity documents.  New users are on-boarded within minutes and ready to use the wallet and receive payments.

Island Pay is installing it’s leading edge ATM Kiosk on several Islands of The Bahamas to facilitate easy cash in/cash out access for the programme.

Island Pay wallet holders can enjoy the following services:

  • Send money to family and friends
  • Receive money from family and friends
  • Top up local and international phone numbers
  • Pay utility bills
  • Transfer money to your bank account

Customers can do the following from an Island Pay ATM Kiosk:

  • Add cash to an Island Pay wallet
  • Withdraw cash from an Island Pay wallet
  • Top up local and international phone numbers
  • Buy gift cards such as iTunes, PSN, Xbox and more
  • Purchase a Prepaid Mastercard

About Island Pay:

Island Pay, founded in 2016, recognizes the strong business case for mobile electronic money providers seeking to re-do the way consumers interact with payments, authentication and identity, especially in under-banked areas. A tokenized service, it is as secure as existing mobile payment services and all customer data is securely held in The Bahamas. It’s smartphone application, available for Android and iOS, allows users to manage the service with security, control and utility throughout the whole of the Caribbean. Its state-of-the-art system offers easy bill payment, money transfer and mobile top-up.

More information about Island Pay can be found on islandpay.com

Register for NIB Payments on the Island Pay Digital Wallet

Island Pay Facilitates NIB GovUEBex Payments2020-07-22T12:02:57-04:00
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