As popular as these digital payment methods have become, they are declining in the Bahamas.
In the Bahamas, the use of mobile wallets has become commonplace, but over the first five months of the year, a declining trend was recorded in top-ups.
The decline wasn’t a slight one, it was practically a freefall in the amount of money topped up.
During the first five months of 2022, top ups to mobile wallets reached $38.4 million. During the same period in 2023, that figure reached only $7.1 million, a fraction of what it was only a year before.
“Comparative mobile payments trends continued to be impacted by the significantly reduced levels of Government transfer payments,” said the Bahamas Central Bank in a public update statement it released on the Sand Dollar. “Absent these transfers, total wallet top-up reached $7.1 million in the first five months of 2023, compared to $38.4 million during January to May 2022.”
The regulator went on to point out that, “In May 2023, most of these transferred payments were ultimately withdrawn in physical cash.”
There has been a notable transformation in the use of mobile wallets and digital payments in the Bahamas.
The Central Bank also stated that because of the trend, person-to-person (P2P) transactions shrank by 20.2 percent when compared to the same time period last year. The combined person-to-business (P2B) and business-to-business (B2B) transaction value dropped by a quarter to about $3.8 million in May.
Most transactions this year are continuing to be processed in SandDollars. The Central Bank has continued its beta testing for its original SandDollar mobile wallets. That enhanced app will offer users a range of self-service tools as well as new features that are intended to support greater user satisfaction.
The regulator currently expects that the app will have a public release by the end of next month. It will be watching transaction methods closely to help determine the popularity and success of its app, which it is hoping will help to reduce the use of physical cash. Cash is a costly transaction method to maintain for most countries worldwide and many are seeking to encourage digital alternatives to reduce that expense.