For the first time, visitors to St. Helena off the coast of southwestern Africa will have the convenience of making in-person, real-time, electronic Visa and Mastercard payments, empowering visitors to engage more conveniently with the island’s local economy.
Visitors to St. Helena have previously been limited to cash transactions using British currency or local St. Helena currency, which is tied to the British pound sterling. Cash withdrawals have only been possible in person at the Bank of St. Helena, with an associated fee of 5%, hindering visitors’ ability to spend money on the island.
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With the new convenience of card payments, visitors will have greater flexibility in spending their currency while exploring the island’s rich offerings. This development marks a major step forward in the island’s digital transformation.
“Barriers resulting from our remoteness have meant that technology adoption has always been delayed on our small and isolated island – the internet didn’t arrive until 1995, and mobile phones weren’t commonplace until 2015,” said Mark Brooks, minister for the treasury, infrastructure and sustainable development portfolio with the St. Helena government said.
“But digital transformation is at the heart of our plans for economic growth as we work hard to recover from the hammer blows dealt to the tourism industry by the Covid-19 pandemic. We couldn’t accept any longer the barriers our cash-based economy put in front of cruise passengers and other tourists, limiting their ability and appetite to spend with our local businesses.”
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