Mastercard And Island Pay To Launch First Central Bank Digital Currency Payment Card

Mastercard has collaborated with local payment service provider Island Pay to roll out prepaid cards for the Bahamians central bank digital currency (CBDC), named the Bahamians Sand Dollar.

Under the initiative, Bahama citizens will have the option to convert the digital currency to the traditional Bahamians dollar easily, and vice versa, Mastercard said in an announcement today.

The service will provide greater flexibility for Bahamians to conveniently pay for goods and services anywhere Mastercard is accepted, the announcement stated.

Notably, the fusion of both Mastercard and Island Pay’s technology will facilitate the country’s effective distribution of cash while modernizing the Bahamas’ overall payment system.

Commenting on the development, Raj Dhamodharan, executive vice president of Digital Asset & Blockchain Products & Partnerships at Mastercard, said the partnership illustrates how the private and public sectors can collaborate and brainstorm on different possibilities.

“We’re creating a lot more possibilities for governments, shoppers, and merchants, allowing them to transact in an entirely new form of payment,” Dhamodharan added.

While welcoming the development, John Rolle, Governor of the Bahamas central bank, noted that the country’s apex bank would continue to embrace developments that will foster the sand dollar infrastructure’s growth.

The Bahama Digital Sand Dollar

The need to develop a CBDC became imperative by the country’s Central Bank to mitigate the cost of moving banknotes across the nation’s 700 islands and more than 5000 square miles of water.

The Sand Dollar was first piloted in 2019 with limited features, including allowing only registered users to access the payment method through an app developed by Island Pay at selected merchants.

In October 2020, the Sand Dollar became the first fully deployed digital version of a nation’s fiat currency.

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As per the announcement, the digital version of the Bahamian Sand Dollar will provide additional payment methods and be deployed to facilitate government disbursement and build an inclusive economy.

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