Despite having settled in its New Kingston offices over a month ago in September, technology giants MasterCard says as it establishes its footprint in Jamaica, it eyes major potential for the wider Caribbean.
Division President for the Caribbean, Marcelo Tangioni, at Tuesday’s (Oct. 15) media launch at the AC Hotel in New Kingston, told journalists that Jamaica marks the third outpost for MasterCard as of 2019, having already opened offices in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Now, with Jamaica officially being brought into the fold, MasterCard is moving aggressively to triple its market share in the region by 2024.
‘The Caribbean spending more, electronically…’
According to Tangioni, MasterCard has decided to fully immerse itself in the region after a year of study into the Caribbean’s spending habits.
As nations begin to embrace the digital revolution, MasterCard has set its sights on taking advantage of the region’s untapped possibilities in electronic payments across the Caribbean, starting with Jamaica.
“About a year ago, we refreshed our strategy for the region, and we were able to find some very interesting things regarding our islands in the Caribbean. By then, the Caribbean was already sizeable [as a market] in terms of electronic payments, a nice surprise for us, but more important than that, was the potential that we discovered for the future,” he said.
The use of electronic payment cards for personal expenditure hovers just below 20 percent in the Caribbean, something MasterCard wants to play a major role in expanding.
“When we talk about economies like Jamaica, with the penetration rate of electronic payments being below 20 percent, we started measuring other payment flows – the most traditional is personal consumption expenditure – and the potential for government expenditure, corporations, remittances, and tourism. We wanted to see the potential for those five areas of the 27 islands we studied at the time, and the conclusion was very positive,” Tangioni explained.
Now, encouraged by the region’s growth and the rising popularity of electronic payments, Tangioni noted that MasterCard seeks to double the use of cards for personal spending to 40 percent by 2022.
This first phase of MasterCard’s refreshed Caribbean strategy will see the technology giants partnering with financial institutions and other companies to infiltrate the liquid cash economy – which is estimated to be worth a staggering $600+ billion.
Jamaica, one of MasterCard’s four core markets
Tangioni further remarked that while the approach towards each country will be different, he projects over the course of the next 18 to 36 months, Jamaica, as one of its core markets, should see significant changes in electronic payment structures.
“Jamaica and Trinidad were selected as part of our core markets and we’re intensifying our local presence because of the business we already have today, but most importantly, the potential that we have for the future,” MasterCard’s Caribbean division president posited.
“It’s super important that when we look at these markets, we go way beyond the traditional thinking of the Caribbean as a tourism hub. Our commitment goes to foster financial inclusion, making sure that when you migrate a payment from paper to electronic, we are bringing huge improvements to the local economy and society,” Tangioni added.
‘Cash still King’, MasterCard to offer more options
MasterCard’s Country Manager for Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, Dalton Fowles, said that the multinational financial services corporation will be aiming not at rivals Visa Inc., but rather the ‘true competition’, which is cash.
“Right now, our focus is not on the other brand, our focus is on expanding acceptance. There is a significant amount of cash in the economy; if we make headway in that space, then we will grow [our] market share,” Fowles contended.