Mastercard on Tuesday launched its Smart Islands programme to help countries in the region move towards cashless systems.
According to the technology firm, the initiative will move regional countries towards being “smarter islands” which will help to strengthen their economies, particularly the tourism industry.
Speaking at the launch held in the Bahamas, Director of Market Development for Mastercard Caribbean, Jimena Elia, said “Innovation is in Mastercard’s 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.”
“The Smart Islands program can help governments implement Smart IDs with payment functionality to streamline government disbursements and help to facilitate immediate aid assistance when necessary…”– Mastercard
With tourism accounting for nearly 15 per cent of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and more than half for many individual countries, Mastercard said its programme can assist governments “define a country’s ideal tourist, enabling more efficient marketing with greater ROI (return on investments).”
To that end, Mastercard said it can assist by leveraging data analytics to, among other things, enable destination marketing organisations by leading with tourism insights and value case models to reach the “ideal” tourist and maximise ROI; provide advisory services to manage targeted campaigns and results; and use economic dashboards to monitor and measure results.
The company says there is significant room for growth in the region as only approximately 10 per cent of the estimated 1.4 million merchants accept electronic payments.
Additionally, Mastercard said tourists are more likely to spend money where making payments is convenient and secure. With some 57 million visitors each year, it continued that “The Smart Islands programme is prime to reap significant gains for the region…”
Furthermore, with the region being prone to natural disasters, having digital systems facilitate “seamless, fast and transparent disbursements of funds in times of crisis” which make recovery easier.
“The Smart Islands program can help governments implement Smart IDs with payment functionality to streamline government disbursements and help to facilitate immediate aid assistance when necessary, even in the most adverse conditions,” Mastercard said. These forms of identification with payment functionality would also serve to include the unbanked population in the formal sector.