LENO Managing Director of Wealth Solutions Brian Jones applauds Social Services for moving toward e-wallets for beneficiaries, noting the transfer of benefits by digital currency will save resources, reduce opportunity for corruption or misuse, allow Social Services staff members to dedicate more time to personal interaction with recipients and afford beneficiaries who will no longer have to stand in line to collect a check or coupons more dignity.
Leno Lauds Govt’s Use of Digital Wallets for Social Services Benefits
Financial services leader Leno today lauded government for what it called “progressive technology and promising efficiency” after Minister of Social Services Frankie Campbell announced that his ministry would begin beta testing for loading benefits onto recipients’ e-wallets as early as this week.
“The world is moving toward a cashless society and it is excellent news that the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development is moving with it, taking steps to increase efficiency, reduce the opportunity for corruption or misuse and provide beneficiaries with the dignity of not having to stand in line to collect a check or coupons,” said Leno Managing Director of Wealth Solutions Brian Jones.
Mr. Jones was one of the earliest banking and brokerage professionals to urge embracing fintech (financial technology). He played a major role in developing legislation for public and private sector policy on digital assets.
Mr. Jones’ comments followed Social Services Minister Frankie Campbell’s announcement that the ministry had engaged three companies to test a secure online social assistance application process, protecting client information and distributing in an efficient and seamless manner.
Initial tests are scheduled to start by the end of this month in New Providence. Once a system is approved, it will be extended to recipients in Grand Bahama and later the Family Islands, the minister indicated.
“We are satisfied that once successful, this will enable us to reduce, if not eradicate, those lines that we see on the outside,” the minister said. The new system will also allow staff members to dedicate more time to assisting people in need through personal visits and individual attention instead of spending days cutting and stuffing checks into envelopes and distributing them to masses of people in line at offices. A coupon system initiated earlier was intended to eliminate some of the labour and create greater accountability.
The e-wallet distribution move by Social Services falls in line with a trend toward digitalization of government business. Earlier this year, Central Bank introduced the first Bahamian digital currency, the Sand Dollar, which was being tested first in Exuma where businesses and residents lamented the loss of several banks in recent years leaving them with a shortage of brick and mortar options.
“Digital wallets or e-wallets have actually been around since the early 1990s,” said Mr. Jones. “Like many innovative concepts, the public was slow to embrace it. It took time to convince people there was a new and smooth way to pay after doing it the traditional way for hundreds of years – that is, I give you a good and you give me a dollar I can see, feel and touch. Replacing the physical with a digital is a sea change but the tide is surely turning and now government’s embrace is a giant step toward the future.”
During the last decade, digital assets grew in popularity as different forms of cryptocurrency became more widely accepted in various types of transactions, including real estate purchases. But the e-wallet really came into its own as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic was a dual driving force,” said Mr. Jones. “First, the need to access goods, including food, and services without physically exchanging them for payment was greater than it had ever been in our lifetime and two, the lockdown narrowed our options for getting to a bank to get the physical currency for the food, goods and supplies we needed. So needs increased and means of paying for them in the traditional sense declined. Contactless payments and mobile apps got a boost and that trend will continue because it is progressive technology that promises ease and efficiency. The move to e-wallets by Social Services is a win-win with both the government of The Bahamas, which is really the tax-paying people of The Bahamas, and the recipients winning. The progressive technology means promises efficiency and a cost-savings we can all appreciate.”
About Leno, Nassau, Bahamas
Founded in 2010, Leno is a fully Bahamian-owned financial services corporation that provides sound financial, fiduciary and investment advisory solutions to individuals, employers, advisors & institutions. Located in Pineapple Plaza, Bernard Road, Nassau, Bahamas, the company maintains assets of nearly $1 billion under management. Products and Services include Trust & Fiduciary Services, Asset Management, Group & Individual Retirement Plans, Investment Funds, Brokerage & Trading, College Savings, Accounting & Payroll and Financial Planning.