MasterCard launches smart islands programme in Caribbean

MasterCard launches smart islands programme in Caribbean

Sunday, January 26, 2020

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Global payment company MasterCard recently launched its smart islands programme in the Caribbean; an initiative which they say will lead the journey towards developing smart, cashless societies and strengthen economies throughout the region.

Speaking at the programme's official launch on Tuesday , Jimena Elia, director of market development for Mastercard Caribbean, said that the move stemmed from the company's innate creativity as innovation forms part of their DNA.

“We are excited to reveal this multi-layered technology that can help expand the tourism industry's earning potential and build the Caribbean's resilience to natural disasters by developing smarter islands built on cashless societies”, she said.

The smart islands programme, they believe is poised to reap significant gains for the region, especially within the tourism industry, an essential economic driver.

“Tourism accounts for nearly 15 per cent of the Caribbean's gross domestic product (GDP) and over 50 per cent on many islands. The region attracts some 57 million visitors each year, directly and indirectly providing more than 2.3 million jobs,” statistics indicate.

Through the data and tourism insights that the smart islands programme provides, MasterCard believes it can help Governments and destination marketing organisations (DMOs) to define its ideal tourist, allowing also for more efficient marketing investments with higher returns on investment (ROI).

With the programme, Government is given the advantage to smartly leverage data analytics so as to provide advisors services to manage targeted campaigns and use economic dashboards to monitor and measure results.

The technology giant in creating the programme has also sought to facilitate and include micro and small enterprises (MSEs), who they say plays a critical role in the economic ecosystem.

“Only a tiny portion of companies in the region accept electronic payments. Today, out of the total of 1.4 million merchants in the region, only 10 per cent of those are accepting electronic payments. Independent research shows that foreign tourists are more likely to spend money where making payments is convenient and secure,” a release stated.

Based on the findings from survey conducted by the global payment entity, they asserted that in order “to leverage the full potential of tourism for inclusive growth, international visitors need to be stimulated to venture beyond the few centres where they congregate, travelling far and wide across the country. As such, opening card acceptance among MSEs expands tourist dollar reach beyond the traditional tourist centres, democratising the industry, fostering financial inclusion, and spreading wealth”.

Given the vulnerability of small islands and small businesses to forces of external shocks; along with the associated difficulties to recover, MasterCard offered that the creation of “digital ecosystems will facilitate seamless, fast and transparent disbursements of funds in times of crisis”.

Marcelo Tangioni, Mastercard's Caribbean division president, emphasised the technology company's commitment to transformational advancement and its steadfast goal of expanding its footprint throughout the Caribbean.

“Advances in technology, like the smart islands program, can help to strengthen economies, foster stronger relationships with MSEs, and increase financial inclusion. The Caribbean has strong digital momentum, and that momentum is the key to future digital evolution,” he said.

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