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St Helena Introduces Visa and Mastercard Payments

  • St Helena Island partners with Ryft to introduce in-person card payments, transforming the tourism experience on the remote British Overseas Territory.
  • This enables visitors to St Helena to make real-time electronic Visa and Mastercard transactions, empowering them to engage freely with the vibrant local economy.
  • This landmark development is set to boost tourist spending, drive economic growth, and position St Helena as a sought-after destination for modern travellers.

St Helena Island, in collaboration with Ryft, the FCA-licensed UK fintech, is revolutionising the visitor experience on the remote island of St Helena. For the first time, visitors to St Helena will have the convenience of making in-person, real-time electronic Visa and Mastercard card payments, enhancing their stay and boosting the local economy by empowering visitors to engage more freely with the island’s vibrant local economy.

Situated in the South Atlantic Ocean, over 1,200 miles off the west coast of Southern Africa, St Helena is a remote British Overseas Territory renowned for its natural beauty and historical significance. With a population of under 4,500, the island relies heavily on tourism, particularly from the UK and South Africa. However, due to its geographical location and limited access to international merchant payment platforms, the island has faced challenges in facilitating seamless transactions for visitors.

Visitors to St Helena have previously been limited to cash transactions using Sterling or St Helena Pounds (tied to GBP). Cash withdrawals have only been possible in person at the Bank of St Helena, with an associated fee of five per cent. This setup has hindered visitors’ ability to spend money on the island.

With the new convenience of card payments, visitors will have greater flexibility in spending their currency while exploring the island’s rich offerings. They can more easily indulge in local hospitality, shop for unique souvenirs, and savour the delightful culinary experiences St Helena has to offer. This development marks a major step forward in the island’s digital transformation, ensuring that St Helena remains a sought-after destination.

Mark Brooks, Minister for the Treasury, Infrastructure, and Sustainable Development Portfolio at St Helena Government, expressed his enthusiasm for the positive impact this partnership will have on the tourism industry:

“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. 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. Many larger companies simply aren’t interested in the challenge of solving problems like these in circumstances like ours – we’re pleased to be working with Ryft, who were innovative and agile enough to take an interest and find a solution.”

Local businesses on St Helena can now directly apply to Ryft to accept Visa and Mastercard payments, with the funds being securely deposited in Bank of St Helena or UK bank accounts. Ryft has worked closely with St Helena Government to develop a seamless and tailored application and onboarding process, ensuring compliance with local regulations while simplifying the experience for businesses.

“We often find ourselves being approached to solve problems for partners where nobody else has been able to, so we were excited to support St Helena Government in this important and ambitious drive to transform the island’s economy. As tourist destinations around the world continue to adapt and rebound in the post-pandemic world, reducing barriers to spending and supporting local businesses is a critical part of the recovery and regrowth process. We’re pleased to be part of that for St Helena, and look forward to working together to see what we can achieve next,” said Sadra Hosseini, co-founder and CEO at Ryft.

About Ryft

Ryft is the payment platform designed to bring marketplaces and digital platforms into the 21st century. We believe current centralised platforms such as e-commerce websites are moving towards decentralisation over the next decade. Ryft is the solution to facilitate this transition. We simplify complex, multi-sided payments by offering a plug and go end-to-end solution to marketplaces and P2P platforms.

To find out more about Ryft for your marketplace or digital platform, please contact support@ryftpay.com.

About St Helena Government

St Helena is a self-governing British Overseas Territory. One of the remotest islands on Earth, St Helena is subtropical, extremely safe and boasts a pristine terrestrial and marine environment. St Helena Government is committed to encouraging enterprise and investment across a broad range of sectors, whilst ensuring development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

The role of the St Helena Government Sustainable Development Team is to ensure St Helena residents are “altogether wealthier” by assisting the development of St Helena’s private sector, promoting sustainable economic growth, encouraging an increased skilled workforce and ensuring that everyone on St Helena prospers from sustainable economic development. Work is underpinned by the core principle to facilitate, enable and make it easier for organisations to do business both locally and with international markets.

Issued on behalf of the St Helena Government by Big Ambitions

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