Imf: Make Bus Tickets Electronic


Tribune Business Editor


The government has been urged by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to prioritise introducing electronic bus tickets as a means to encourage Bahamians to switch to electronic payments.

The fund, in a just-released assessment of the Bahamian payments system, said this was “a great opportunity” for generating confidence and trust in electronic payments among Bahamians given that bus fares were among the highest-volume forms of cash transactions.

“Given that payments for bus tickets constitute one of the large use cases of retail payments (in terms of volume) in the country, the introduction of a digital ticket presents a great opportunity for advancing the usage of electronic payment instruments,” the IMF argued.

“This could also help users of the public transportation system gain trust in the electronic payment means, and also potentially start using them for other purposes in their daily transactions. The fact that the Ministry of Transport is already considering this option constitutes a first step in the direction of a digital transportation system.”

It continued: “The bus transportation system in The Bahamas functions entirely on cash. Bus tickets constitute one of the use cases with a high potential in the country given that there are approximately 400 buses covering the equivalent number of routes.

“Presently, the Ministry of Transport outsources the different routes to private franchise based on an annual permit. Despite the fact that the different routes are covered by different bus companies, the ticket purchase/collection method is common given that a flat fee ticket charge is collected in cash by a bus conductor from each passenger.

“However, the Ministry of Transport plans to get involved in working together with the bus franchises in order to explore the possibility of a plan that would digitise the ticket system and introduce the infrastructure needed.”

Renward Wells, minister of transport and aviation, seemed to indicate during his recent 2019-2020 budget presentation that while tickets and alternative payment means to cash are options, such a move as recommended by the IMF is not leading proposed reform efforts currently.

Confirming that the Cabinet had agreed in principle to launch a unified public transportation pilot project for route 17, via the United Public Transportation Company, he said: “The public transit service will operate along the fixed route according to a pre-determined schedule. The service will be provided by modern, clean buses, and users will board buses at designated bus stops or at other locations as directed by the ministry along the route.

“A fare will be charged for all trips taken on the transit service. The fare structure is applicable to each one-way trip and applies to all customers. All fares are by exact change, cash, on a ‘pay as you enter’ basis. Fares must be deposited by the customer into a fare-box on the bus. Bus drivers may not handle or deposit fares on behalf of customers except when the customer is unable to do so due to a disability,” Mr Wells added.

“My ministry will reserve the right to alter the fare levels, fare structure, to introduce zones and to offer fare reductions or to introduce alternate fare payment methods (tickets or passes) as it deems appropriate.”

The IMF, meanwhile, also proposed that The Bahamas create a “basic bank account” with lower opening fees and Know Your Customer (KYC) identification requirements as a means of luring the “unbanked” into the formal financial services system.

“Banks charge a fee for opening an account, maintaining an account, as well as for ATM cash withdrawals,” the IMF report said. “According to a Central Bank survey on consumer satisfaction pertaining to banks, the average monthly fees associated with an account vary between $5–$19.21.

“Based on the same survey, 40 percent of the respondents reported that they do not understand the structure of the fees they are charged. Moreover, 78 percent of the respondents find overall fees to be high and somewhat high, with the ATM withdrawal fees being the most commonly viewed as costly.”

As a solution to this and associated barriers, the Fund proposed its “basic bank account” idea. It said: “While the unbanked population in The Bahamas is driven by different reasons, one of them is the fees associated with opening and maintaining a bank account for those under low income.

“As such, The Bahamas could benefit from the introduction of a ‘basic’ bank account with simplified identification requirements that would allow for initiating and receiving payments, at low fees, for those individuals that have never held an account before. This type of account be based on the model introduced in the Payment System Directive 2 (PSD2) in the European Union.

“While the pricing will be up to the banks, in determining the pricing structure for usage and other features of the basic account, banks should bear in mind that their key target population are poor individuals for which a minimum balance requirement is not likely to be a viable option, and which in addition may potentially receive some type of social transfers from the government.

“In any event, these basic accounts will make it possible for the respective target populations to transfer (receive) funds and pay electronically to/from as many parties as possible, but in particular to/from those parties with which these individuals transact regularly for routine issues.”


DDK 8 months, 3 weeks ago

The IMF should give it a rest!


Well_mudda_take_sic 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Pretty soon the IMF will be announcing the best time of the day for Bahamians to sit on their nearest toilet seat and take a good dump! And our daft Minnis-led FNM government will of course pass legislation imposing a significant penalty on anyone who dares to take a dump at any time during the day but the time recommended by the IMF.


Well_mudda_take_sic 8 months, 3 weeks ago

The IMF is nothing but a tool of the developed countries used to bankrupt smaller nations like ours by encouraging their governments to build up unsustainable levels of debt combined followed by the introduction of unsound economic policies, crippling taxation and harmful austerity measures. Powerful investors in the developed countries are then able to swoop in like vultures and buy up just about everything of value in the bankrupted nation for mere pennies on the dollar, literally raping, pillaging and plundering the indigenous downtrodden people. This despicable tactic has been going on in many smaller nations around the world for decades.

Ask yourself: Did any Bahamian voter in the May 2017 general election cast their ballot for the IMF to govern our country?! Just who do these elitist global bureacrats think they are?!! They encourage our stupid corrupt politicians to suck heavily on the lending teat ("tit") of the international lending agencies in order to then tell us (the Bahamian people) that they now have a right to meddle in our nation's internal affairs. What a joke!


bcitizen 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Hmm l never saw the IMF on my last ballot paper or mentioned in any political parties manifesto.


ohdrap4 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Surely, this is a joke.

Member of the HOA and their IMF cohorts should set out at 7am from Carmichael to the Mall at Marathon.

Then return to carmichael at 3pm.

In disguise, of course.


banker 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Didn't Reuben Rahming already do this with PTAB over 10 years ago?


TheMadHatter 8 months, 3 weeks ago

"This type of account be based on the model introduced in the Payment System Directive 2 (PSD2) in the European Union."

I keep saying over and over again, government needs to ban British Airways and all European airlines from this country (Brexit is not complete yet), and ban ALL European nationals from even visiting here as tourists. Give all Europeans who own property here a 2 year deadline to sell and get out. Ban all wire transfers to or from Europe, block all phone calls, and block all Internet IP addresses of European websites or Whatsapp connection points and any and all of anything coming from or going to Europe from this country.

Europe has effectively declared WAR on the Bahamas, and we just sitting around doing nothing, waiting on them to finish completely bankrupting this country.

Remember the best defense is a strong offense. Stop the fools now before they go any further. Yes it will be painful. But it will be a victory in the end, instead of our now certain path to lose.


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