Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn, would like see a reduction in the amount of cash and cheques circulating in the Barbados economy.
He made the assertion during the recent launch of the EZpay+ online payment system at Radisson Aquatica Resort.
The rebranded digital payment system will allow citizens to transact business with Government departments from their computers and mobile devices using credit and debit cards, as well as Mmoney (digital money).
The Minister told those in attendance that not only did cash and cheques take time to circulate, verify and validate but the processes associated with them required manpower.
“We want to be able to transition that manpower away from those procedures, utilize the technology such that government can deliver better services for all of the businesses and the citizens of Barbados. We see [Ezpay+] as an integrated effort between Government and the private sector to be able to bring this to fruition,” he stated.
Mr. Straughn said that as government sought to modernize the public sector, it had committed itself to ensuring that all citizens could transact their business with ease.
He added that while the focus of the Ministry of Finance was to deliver that “ease”, he was cognizant of “the many longstanding complaints” regarding the processes at the Barbados Revenue Authority, the Treasury Department and other Government revenue centres.
While commending the work of the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology in getting the EZpay+ online payment platform up and running, he cautioned that this was not the end but the beginning of transforming the way Government and the average citizen conducted business.
“I have visions of buying my coconut water on a Sunday with my mobile phone and I challenge everyone in this room to allow us to be able to get to that stage as quickly as possible because it offers the small business an opportunity to have a much more secure operating environment.
“If we can transform Barbados as quickly as we can to be able to do the simple things, utilizing the technology that is already there, I believe Barbados will leap frog not just in terms of the indices but people will experience what business facilitation really feels like. We may be able to create an economy that is cutting edge and be able to compete with anybody any part of the world,” he contended.
Minister Straughn pointed out that Government’s major task was to let everyone know, from the rum shop owner to the pensioner and “young entrepreneur”, the benefits of transforming to a digital economy, since its goal was “to make it simple to do business and simple to be paid”.