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Mastercard and Square are working together to help small businesses on the Falkland Islands accept digital payments.

According to a press release from Mastercard, cash payments dominate the islands, which see thousands of tourists annually. The remote nature of the islands, which lie in the South Atlantic Ocean, makes building a payments acceptance infrastructure difficult. According to Square, the islands have only one bank branch and ATM, and options for accepting card payments have been limited. 

The two companies have partnered with the Falkland Islands’ government to help sellers access bank accounts and onboard with Square, and to provide them with Square readers.

“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 here, 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,” Waggott continued.

Working with Square was a good fit for the islands, according to the Mastercard release. Square readers are easy for sellers to set up and the software is updated automatically. The Square model, without long-term contracts or monthly subscriptions, also works well for sellers whose business fluctuates with the seasons.

“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,” said Kevin Kilmartin, owner of Bluff Cove, a tour company that trialed the Square technology.

“Now people can spend significantly more with us, and we save time not having to travel to the single bank branch on the Islands.”

The companies made the announcement as part of London Tech Week, an event that showcases tech innovation. The islands, which lie 8,000 miles from London, are considered a British Overseas Territory.