Mastercard is rolling out prepaid cards that can be loaded with the world's first central bank digital currency, the Bahamian Sand Dollar.
Originally piloted in 2019, the Sand Dollar became the first fully- deployed digital version of a country’s fiat currency in October 2020. At that time, the Sand Dollar was exclusively accessed by registered users through a digital app provided by local payment service provider Island Pay at select merchants.
Now, Island Pay is to issue a Bahamas Sand Dollar prepaid card that gives people the option to instantly convert the digital currency to traditional Bahamian dollars and pay for goods and services anywhere Mastercard is accepted on the Islands and around the world.
In The Bahamas, there are 700 small islands and more than 5000 square miles of water. Cash money movement becomes costly, which makes a central bank digital currency (CBDC) a preferred digital payment in the region. In the future, the Sand Dollar will be offered to tourists.
Central Bank of The Bahamas governor, John Rolle, says: “We welcome this approach to combining digital currency use with access to foreign currency and other payment outlets. The Central Bank of The Bahamas will continue to encourage fintech developments that tie into the Sand Dollar infrastructure, while allowing us to satisfy best global practices for regulation of the space.”
Mastercard is moving fast to position itself in the CBDC space, rolling out a testing platform for central bank crypto pilots and preparing its network to handle the direct processing of cryptocurrency payments later this year.
Raj Dhamodharan, executive vice president of digital asset & blockchain products & partnerships at Mastercard, says: “This partnership is an example of how the private and public sector can rethink what’s possible, while delivering the strongest levels of consumer protection and regulatory compliance. We’re creating a lot more possibilities for governments, shoppers and merchants, allowing them to transact in an entirely new form of payment."