The Bahamas gets a card for its sand dollar national digital currency

The Bahamas is moving to make its national digital currency more accessible by launching a prepaid card for the “sand dollar.”

The Central Bank of The Bahamas has partnered with global payment giant Mastercard and local payment startup Island Pay to create a card that supports the sand dollar central bank digital currency.

According to a Wednesday announcement, the card is running under a new program from Mastercard and Island Pay, allowing users to convert the digital currency to traditional Bahamian dollars and pay for goods and services. The new card will be accepted for payments across the Caribbean region and other locations supporting Mastercard, the companies said.

The new solution is based on technology from Island Pay, a digital payment startup mainly operating across the Caribbean region. The company holds a license from the Central Bank of The Bahamas to operate as a payment service provider and electronic money institution.

“Island Pay is the issuer of the Sand Dollar Mastercard. The card is integrated into our mobile wallet so that customers can view their balance and transaction information, enable/disable the card and check their PIN,” a spokesperson for Island Pay said. The representative said that the card is now in private beta, while the full launch is scheduled for March 2021. Once launched, the card would be linkable with mobile payment services like Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

The announcement does not provide more details on how exactly Mastercard’s CBDC technology works. As previously reported, the company has been actively engaged with several major central banks around the world to support CBDC initiatives.

The Bahamas is known as one of the first countries in the world to ever launch a CBDC. The sand dollar launched in pilot mode in late 2019 and became available across its entire archipelago in October 2020.

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