Falkland Islands businesses have leaped forward in their digital banking capabilities under a recent partnership, which was announced on Tuesday (Sept. 8) as part of London Tech Week.
“Connecting the Falklands (solves) one of the greatest challenges facing the islands’ small and medium-sized businesses: accepting card and digital payments,” stated a news release announcing the arrangement.
Among the points noted in the news release: The Falklands are 8,000 miles from London and penguins outnumber people by 100:1 there; the islands have only one ATM and one bank branch.
It has proven difficult for local merchants seeking to expand beyond cash-only transactions, amid regulatory hurdles and distance-related challenges for card machine installation and maintenance.
Under the new arrangement, the release states, “Mastercard connected the Falkland Islands Government to Square, and the three organizations formed a partnership to solve the challenges that made taking cards so uniquely difficult for this island community. This included helping sellers access the bank accounts needed for payments settlement … together with onboarding them to Square to provide them with mobile Square Readers to take payments and to integrate the latest Mastercard technology.”
“We have been a cash-heavy society for many years,” said Tim Waggott, financial secretary for the Falkland Islands government. “But with increasing visitor numbers, we knew we needed to help our local businesses to make the shift to card payments. My predecessor here, James Wilson, had been working with industry to find a solution, and we are really pleased it has finally come to fruition with Square and Mastercard.”
“With the coronavirus pandemic it’s clearly an uncertain time for our business community, but they are resilient and used this time to get set up for the future,” Waggott added. “When the tourist trade returns, it’ll be more important than ever that we can give everyone safe and convenient ways to pay. This is a huge step forward, which will ensure that our industry is well-positioned to meet future demand and that Falkland Islands businesses are more financially empowered to expand.”
In the news release, Jack Dorsey, CEO and co-founder of Square, said: “Running a business is always hard, and these business owners have the added challenge of being in one of the most remote places on earth. Connecting the Falklands is a big step in creating a more inclusive global economy.”
And Mark Barnett, president of Mastercard Europe, said: “Empowering small business is at the heart of what we do. This project transforms business opportunities for Islanders and significantly improves the experience for locals and tourists alike, who can now pay simply and safely using Mastercard’s latest payment technology, including our sonic acceptance mark. Having been set the challenge of bringing payments to the Islands, we are delighted to have been able to form this partnership, and we wish the Islands’ businesses every future success.”
Mastercard said in May that it would connect one billion new people around the world to the platform by 2025.