Square and Mastercard bring card payments to the Falkland Islands

Launching today during London Tech Week, Square and Mastercard will work with the Falkland Islands government to help small and medium-sized businesses on the islands to overcome the long-standing challenge of accepting card and digital payments.

The ‘Connecting the Falklands’ scheme came about when Mastercard connected the Falklands government to card payments provider Square.

From here, the three bodies have looked to help sellers to access the bank accounts needed for payment settlements, as well as onboarding them onto Square’s ecosystem with mobile Square Readers. These allow them to take card and digital payments, as well as integrate Mastercard technology.

In addition, Square hasn’t held sellers to monthly or long-term subscriptions, meaning that the technology is compatible with seasonal businesses that experience quieter winter months.

The islands currently only have one cash machine and bank branch, while most shops have operated on a cash-only basis, meaning that paying by card or digitally has rarely been a viable option for residents and tourists.

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“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, 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. 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.”

Mark Barnett, president of Mastercard Europe, commented: “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 form this partnership and we wish the Islands’ businesses every future success.”

Early trialists

First to trial the technology was Hattie and Kevin Kilmartin, owners of tour company Bluff Cove. Mr Kilmartin commented: “The impact has been significant. Our business is around half an hour’s drive from the capital Stanley where there is the only ATM, so our takings were literally limited by the amount of cash in someone’s pocket.

“Now people can spend significantly more with us as thanks to Square we can take credit and debit cards.”

Previously a cash-only business, Bluff Cove now takes 80% of its annual revenue through Square.

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Aaron Hurst

Aaron Hurst is Information Age's senior reporter, providing news and features around the hottest trends across the tech industry.