The Housing Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (HDC) has become the the first officially recognised Government corporation to provide customers with cashless payment options for both the banked and unbanked.
The cashless option, which is part of the vision of Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert, for the country, was made possible by the Trinidad and Tobago International Financial Centre (TTIFC), the organisation in charge of promoting the use of digital payments throughout Government.
Speaking at the onboarding ceremony at HDC’s head office in Port of Spain just before Christmas, TTIFC CEO, John Outridge, described HDC getting a cashless option as a very important milestone for the TTIFC as it seeks to push cashless payments to all of the Government.
“We have been working tirelessly behind the scenes with other critical stakeholders, such as the Treasury Division of the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, the Trinidad and Tobago Cyber-Security Incident Response Team, and other ministries, departments, and agencies that are all well-advanced in their implementations, to ensure that the benefits of digital payments reach the greatest number of citizens,” said Outridge.
He pointed out that the HDC was a good place to start in this respect, as it has growing customer base of over 20,000 citizens who will now have the added benefit of multiple safe, secure, and convenient payment options for one of the most valuable assets that anyone can own – a place to call home.”
The HDC is a state agency of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.
It will be the first to utilise Government cashless payments platform to offer HDC customers a new option to manage their payments for License to Occupy and/or Rent-to-Own services through online payment channels facilitated by TSTT as well as the country’s first e-Money Issuer (EMI), PayWise and other payment service providers across Trinidad and Tobago, such as SurePay.
In a news release, the TTIFC said there are more convenient options to follow in the near future.
“This partnership between the HDC and TTIFC is the perfect addition to our ‘More Ways to Pay’ initiatives as the HDC continues to fulfil our mandate of providing affordable housing and exploring new opportunities to provide our customers with the right mix of services and tools to help them to protect and maintain their homeownership status,” said HDC managing director Jayselle McFarlane, at the onboarding ceremony.
The HDC will also collaborate closely with TTIFC to raise awareness of the benefits of digital payment solutions among residents and renters in different HDC communities and to encourage them to adopt these solutions to make on-time rent or mortgage payments.
Citizens will benefit greatly as the TTIFC integrates electronic funds transfer (EFT) payments and other digital payment methods across the public sector, according to Dawn Nelson, vice president of Financial Services Transformation at TTIFC.
“The Licensing Division of the Ministry of Works and Transport, the Immigration Division, the Judiciary, and the Ministry of Trade and Industry are some of the Government ministries, departments, and agencies with which we have been strategically and closely collaborating with. These organisations deliver some of the most critical services and are responsible for processing the largest volumes of payments.
“These are just a few of the government agencies with whom we are currently working, which will soon be part of the cashless platform and provide safety, security, and convenience to the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago when doing business online with the state,” said Nelson.
In delivering the 2023 budget on September 26, 2022, Finance Minister, Colm Imbert said that with the support and hard work of the TTIFC, the Government had made considerable progress in the introduction of cashless transactions in the public sector:
• Under the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, payments can now be made by LINX and online credit cards for services at the Civil Registry, Companies Registry, and Intellectual Property Office;
• At the Immigration Division payments for passports, work permits, and visas can be made by LINX, with online debit and credit cards targeted for December 2022;
• At the Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards, payments for customs import declarations can be paid for by LINX, online debit and credit cards;
• At the Judiciary, payments for fixed penalties and court ordered maintenance can be made by online debit and credit cards and payments using a voucher system managed by Payment Service Provider Agents is targeted for December 2022;
• At the Inland Revenue Division, payments by Automated Clearing House (ACH) and Real-time Gross Settlement (RTGS) Direct Deposit can be
made directly to the Treasury suspense account at the Central Bank; online payments by debit and credit card are targeted for 2023;
• At the Treasury Division, payments of public service wages and salaries are being made through bank transfers;
• At the Ministry of Trade and Industry, online payments for Single Electronic Window transactions by debit card and credit card are targeted for December 2022;
• At the Ministry of Works and Transport, payments of fixed fine and penalties can be made by LINX; online debit and credit cards are targeted for December 2022. Workers in the Unemployment Relief Programme and being paid through debit cards; and
• At the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services, payment of food support is being made through debit cards and public assistance by
bank transfers. The use of bank transfers for other social grants or payments cards, and/or a voucher system using payment service providers or mobile wallets are being developed for implementation in 2023.