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Visa Inc. debit and credit cards are arranged for a photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. Visa is expected to announce fourth-quarter earnings figures on October 25. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Government of Barbados looks at new payment options as banks switch to Visa

Visa Inc. debit and credit cards are arranged for a photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. Visa is expected to announce fourth-quarter earnings figures on October 25. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The Government of Barbados is looking to develop a new payments solution for micro and small businesses within the credit union movement.

The proposal follows the switch by local banks from the Caribbean Integrated Financial Services Inc. (CarIFS) system in favour of Visa branded products.

The Barbados Parliament building. (Photo: Cayman Compass)

 CarIFS, established in 1998, is the locally based Automated Banking Machine (ABM)-network provider, which allows customers of various financial institutions to have 24-hour access to cash from their bank accounts via any CarIFS-affiliated banking machine and point-of-sale terminal.

Banks opted out, on the basis that the locally run system needed an upgrade.

” “E-credit union members were, representing about 200,000 out of a population of 280,000.”

One report from Barbados Today, a news publication, said that among local credit unions, the Barbados Workers’ Union Co-operative Credit Union Ltd, the City of Bridgetown Co-operative Credit Union Ltd and the Barbados Public Workers’ Co-operative Credit Union Ltd – had CarIFS-ready cards.

Their members can use the CarIFS network for automated banking machine (ABM) services and point-of-sale transactions.

On Wednesday September 11, Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce Dwight Sutherland was reported in Barbados Today as saying that he was working with the credit unions to launch an electronic payments network “very soon”.

Shoppers at a supermarket in Bridgetown, Barbados. (Photo: pbs.org)

Sutherland said he had met with the credit union movement and “they have to rely on a system next year, other than the CarIFS system”.

The drive behind the new platform he said, was on behalf of MSMEs who E-credit union members were, representing about 200,000 out of a population of 280,000. 

He was quoted as saying “So, I am actively engaged in the development of an alternative platform to the CarIFS for the credit union movement. You will hear more about this very soon.”

Sutherland noted that micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) contribute 47.5 per cent of the overall $7.3 billion of revenue generated by the private non-agricultural sector in Barbados.     

Barbados Today quoted Sutherland as saying that small businesses may feel the pinch from the CARIFS withdrawal more than their larger counterparts, noting that many MSMEs held accounts at various credit unions.