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  • Gallery Staff

Owners of Island Pay revealed

Amid burning questions over who is behind Island Pay, the company working with the National Insurance Board to distribute benefit payments through its digital wallet, The Gallery has learned that the beneficial owners on record are former Minister of Finance in two FNM Administrations Sir William Allen and Anthony Ferguson.

However, Richard Douglas, a foreigner, applied to the government to purchase shares in Island Pay. Insiders suspect that Douglas already owns shares in the electronic money mobile payment service provider but officials are now trying to finalize it by having shares formally transferred to him. Cabinet Office has not yet reached a conclusion on the application.

According to its website, Island Pay is assisting NIB with the launch of its new online portal Government-funded Unemployment Benefit Extension (GovUEBex) Program.

“People who received NIB Unemployment Benefit payments via cheque, for any reason, during the COVID-19 shutdown period, will receive extension payments via the Island Pay Digital Wallet,” according to Island Pay.

However, observers question whether Island Pay is benefiting more financially from this arrangement with NIB than unemployed Bahamians.

It raises the question why didn’t NIB adopt the same format as the Department of Social Services which issues cards and allows recipients to withdraw the funds from Bank of the Bahamas.

Instead the decision was made to establish Island Pay and form this arrangement which will cost NIB lots of money in the long run.

When pressed by popular Guardian Radio talk show host Nahaja Black this week on who is behind the company, National Insurance Minister Brensil Rolle could not say even though NIB is transferring millions of dollars to pay benefits and an application for the transfer of company shares is currently before Cabinet. Would he have been more forthcoming with information if those shareholders were political opponents and not a long-serving party member?

On Monday, Island Pay came under fire from angry unemployment benefit recipients who claimed they were unable to access their desperately needed funds.

All of the digital platform’s kiosks are in locations that are closed during the lockdown, preventing recipients from accessing payments during this period.

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