JM | Oct 28, 2020

Mastercard to be an ally of small businesses in Jamaica

Al Edwards

Al Edwards / Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes
MasterCard Country Manager for Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, Dalton Fowles (Photo: Shaquiel Brooks)

Mastercard celebrates its first year operating in Jamaica and has reiterated its commitment to small businesses with its digital financial solutions.

In a virtual press conference held earlier today (October 28), Mastercard’s Country Manager for Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, Dalton Fowles said: “Small businesses are the backbone of our economies and pillars of our communities. In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) they contribute 30 per cent to GDP and employ 70 per cent of its people.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has hastened the importance of the digital age and Mastercard is seeing to it that it is at the vanguard of that drive as it pertains to financial transactions.

It has focused on rolling out its chip and pin contactless card with its enhanced security features which is gaining traction in Jamaica.

To underscore the importance of the small business sector to Mastercard, Fowles announced that it will invest US$250 million in targeting SMEs globally over the next five years while assisting 25 million women.

In its first full year in Jamaica, Mastercard has made great efforts with brand awareness and has continually championed the capabilities of its products. It has formed a strong partnership with Scotiabank that has seen the debit Mastercard gaining popularity in Jamaica.

Fowles spoke to a number of partnerships, notably one with telemedical company MD Link. At the moment it has just under 10,000 downloads and it allows you to have a one-to-one consultation, or chat for that matter, with your doctor.

The Caribbean represents an important market for Mastercard, according to Dalton Fowles, but his immediate focus is on Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago.

—Mastercard on its first year of operations in Jamaica.

Using your Mastercard allows you get a 20 per cent discount when you sign up for MD Link.

The informality and heavy dependence on cash of the Jamaican economy did not escape Fowles’ attention. Drawing on Bank of Jamaica (BOJ) statistics he said between US$9 and US$11 billion in cash was used in transactions last year islandwide, which means a significant loss in tax revenues for the government.

Fowles said many micro-businesses should make efforts to be formalised, and, using Mastercard’s available technology, will prove a boon to their ventures.  He further explained that there should be inducements to get more people into the digital space.

Mastercard is determined to continue driving the shift to digital payments by leveraging consumers’ increased exposure to electronic transactions.

The company will now look to offer a suite of digital peer to peer lending solutions. Its focus will be on security, speed, and convenience.

According to Mastercard, this means it will now:

  1. Introduce new payment streams
  2. Expand digital security infrastructure
  3. Support SME growth
Photo The Points Guy

As online and other digital transactions become more prevalent, Fowles stressed the importance of traders protecting their websites and portals from fraud.

The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted Mastercard, however, the company maintains its commitment to its local and regional partners. Fowles noted that tourism is and will remain depressed in the Caribbean.

In Jamaica, Mastercard has done a good job to date in brand awareness building—getting behind a number of events and signing young reggae superstar Koffee as brand ambassador. In fact, she made an appearance on the call singing happy birthday to Mastercard (Jamaica)

Mastercard reported revenues of US$3.8 billion for the third quarter and adjusted earnings of US$1.60 per share. Like many other players, it has seen cross-border card transactions significantly reduced due to the virus.

Fowles said that the Caribbean is important to Mastercard but his focus is on Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago. In those territories, he added people can expect a rollout of more products and services together with an even greater presence over the next 18 to 24 months.


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