Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology (MIST), Senator Kay McConney, addressing the launch of the rebranded EZpay+ online platform today at the Radisson Aquatica Resort. (A.Husbands/BGIS)

The ease of doing business with government departments just got easier for Barbadians.

That’s because the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology launched the rebranded EZpay+ online platform today, which allows persons to make payments to government without leaving the comfort of their homes.

Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology (MIST), Senator Kay McConney, launched the platform this morning at the Radisson Aquatica Resort.

She told those in attendance, which included representatives of private partners such as Cave Shepherd Card Services and Mmoney, that persons could now make payments for land tax, national insurance contributions, subscriptions to the Official Gazette, telecommunications licences and business registrations at the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office by visiting ezpay.gov.bb.

The Innovation Minister said the rebranded EZpay+ was more than just a cosmetic change to the EZpay which existed before. She said it signalled a strategic approach to the collection of government revenue.

“The MIST and the Ministry of Finance, because this is a collaborative effort by the two ministries, have been working assiduously with our private sector partners to build out a digital payments eco system which will allow for any legitimate payment service provider to collect revenue on behalf of the Government of Barbados.

“EZpay+ provides for an avenue through which Barbadians can make payments digitally, using their debit accounts or credit cards. I am happy to see Mmoney is here bringing a new type of payment systems – digital money – to the table. The future of money is digital and it is mobile, so why not partner with those private sector partners who are already there rather than Government create its own and to simply leverage what already exists,” the Senator surmised.

She said some commercial banks and Cave Shepherd Card Services had come on board, and she expected private online payment platform SurePay to join the fold in the near future.

Senator McConney pointed out that this demonstrated that Government was impartial and unbiased, “in relation to the collection of our revenue as long as it is done in a way that is easy, safe, affordable and efficient”.

A major aspect of using EZpay+ was the protection of consumers’ data when they accessed the service, she noted.  She assured the public that not only would their data be secure, but they would have the full backing of a legislative framework.

“We have moved with alacrity to advance the once stalled Data Protection legislation. This legislation was passed in both Houses of Parliament and we are working now to put administrative arrangements in place in order to effect the proclamation of this legislation….  We cannot build out a digital economy without the underpinning legislation and the rigour to protect consumers and their data rights.

“I needed to say that today because I want people to know that as they engage in EZpay+ and with the partners that we are doing everything in our power to ensure that not just the government’s payment portal, but also that of the partners are safe,” Minister McConney emphasized.

She explained that more services would be added to EZpay+ in the future.  These will include the revamped Police Certificate of Character, passports, visas and drivers’ licences.

This roll out would be accompanied by a public education campaign the Senator disclosed, to help build citizens’ digital intelligence and their capacity to adopt the services in their homes.

Additionally, Senator McConney said that the Ministry’s Digital Ambassadors – students who attend tertiary institutions and who are part of the Ministry of Education’s ‘Give Back’ programme – would be there to make the digital transition easier for members of the public.

“MIST will be deploying [them] across Barbados.  Every time the Government rolls out a service they will be near home, in communities, in your libraries, in your resource centres … all across Barbados, helping Barbados to move forward,” she asserted.

melissa.rollock@barbados.gov.bb

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