WILLEMSTAD.-The shift towards the use of Master debit cards is a challenge not only for commerce but also for a company like Aqualectra. The water and electricity production and distribution company has adopted the Pagafasil prepaid system and needs to renew all machines because they still do not accept Master debit cards.

Additionally, the expenses related to the use of Master debit cards are of great concern for the commercial sector, but also for Aqualectra, stated the Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Neysa Schoop-Isenia, to EXTRA. “A large majority of water and electricity bill payments or electricity purchases through the Pagatinu system are made using debit cards.”

She says it is necessary to observe how the increase in spending will be managed. As EXTRA recently indicated, merchants have started rejecting these new debit cards because their costs increase from less than 1 percent to almost 4 percent on each transaction.

One of the dangers is that the new cards contribute to inflation because merchants have to pass these extra costs onto the price of their products. The point is that local banks are required to use the Master/VISA international platform to manage online payment traffic, which entails additional costs.

Schoop-Isenia says that Aqualectra will not directly transfer the additional costs of the debit card to the customer. “In the future, however, these costs will be included in the calculation of water and electricity tariffs in one way or another if a solution is not reached.”

For this reason, Schoop-Isenia hopes that together with the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten (CBCS), a solution will be reached for the additional costs. “We are dealing with a global giant like Master/Visa. I hope we can install some kind of local platform for debit cards.”

On January 22nd, the CBCS instituted the National Payment Council (NPC), and under this, a working group was formed to address this specific issue. It involves the participation of different stakeholders precisely to address these kinds of situations.

The NPC is a platform where competent authorities, the CBCS, and the Bureau of Telecommunications and Post (BT&P), along with other stakeholders, can discuss the management of the payment system, with a balanced representation of public and private interests related to payment system activity. It also serves as a place where payment service providers and users can express themselves and exchange their desires and challenges, and perhaps transform them into new functionalities for our payment system.


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