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Mastercard launches card for Bahamas central bank digital currency

The global payments giant Mastercard, the local payments company Island Pay and the Central Bank of the Bahamas collaborate to launch the first prepaid card specialized for the use of the digital currency of that nation. The so-called ‘sand dollar’, which was the world’s first central bank digital currency, will offer a more accessible system for users.

The card will allow to convert the digital currency to traditional Bahamian dollars in a simple and immediate way so that they can pay for goods and services anywhere in the world where Mastercard is accepted.

The sand dollar was launched in pilot mode in late 2019 and became available across the archipelago in October 2020. It has the same value and consumer protection as a traditional Bahamian dollar.

“There are 700 small islands and more than 13,000 square km of water in the Bahamas. The movement of cash becomes expensive, which makes the central bank digital currency a preferred means of payment in the region, ”explained the company Island Pay.

In the future, the sand dollar will be offered to tourists. This card seeks to reduce operating costs of cash distribution and modernize the payment system in general in the region.

Sand Pay is a digital payments startup founded in 2016 that operates mainly in the Caribbean region. You can offer this solution by being the first to obtain a license from the Central Bank of the Bahamas to operate as a payment service provider and electronic money institution. An Island Pay spokesperson said the card is now in beta and that the launch is scheduled for March 2021. Once launched, the card will be linked with mobile payment services such as Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

The Governor of the Central Bank of the Bahamas, John Rolle, said:

We welcome this approach to combining the use of digital currency with access to foreign currency and other means of payment. The Central Bank of the Bahamas will continue to encourage fintech developments that relate to the sand dollar infrastructure, while allowing us to meet global best practices for space regulation.

Mastercard will accept cryptocurrency payments on its network.

The company Mastercard mentioned that it has 89 “blockchain patents” globally and 285 additional applications pending worldwide. This, it says, makes it one of the largest ‘blockchain patent portfolios’ in the payments industry.

With this technology and the wide acceptance of Mastercard by merchants, digital currencies have a means of use globally, especially now that the company will allow all affiliated merchants to receive payments with cryptocurrencies by the end of the year.

On the other hand, it should be remembered that there are also other central bank digital currencies such as China’s digital Yuan. Thanks to its alliance with SWIFT, the leading finance and banking communications organization, this digital currency also has the potential to expand globally.