Connecting the Falklands
As part of London Tech Week, Square, Mastercard and the Falkland Islands Government announced a new partnership, Connecting the Falklands, solving one of the greatest challenges facing the Islands' small and medium-sized businesses - accepting card and digital payments.
The virtual event that launched the films was hosted by Ade Adepitan where he spoke to Square founder Jack Dorsey, a couple who run a business on the island, and Mark Barnett, President of Mastercard, Europe.
The ability to now accept card payments for Hattie and Kevin's business has made a significant difference, allowing them to adapt their products from keyrings and coasters that could be paid for with cash, to using the sheep's wool to make tweed scarves and blankets, increasing the value of their business. Square has enabled them to grow.
The Falkland Islands lie 8,000 miles from London in a remote and beautiful location where penguins outnumber people by more than 100:1. To date, many of the Islands’ businesses have been cash-only. Banking and compliance issues made it difficult, and sometimes impossible for small businesses to sign up for merchant accounts to accept cards - and to get those funds settled into their bank account. On top of that, card payment machines were difficult to install and maintain in such a remote location.
A few words from creative director Marc Allenby
“The ambition was that the films and photography captured the spirit of the Falklands in a way that is as special as the Islands, its people and the project.”
Creative Moment editor Lucy Smith spoke to Marc about this special project.
Lucy Smith: When this brief came in what was the biggest draw for you; what appealed to you the most about this project?
Marc Allenby: The Falklands is a part of the UK which is pretty unknown to the vast majority of us (including myself). It’s mostly famous for one thing; the war in the early ’80s. So when I was handed this project, I was thrilled at the opportunity of having the chance to change that perception through this incredible project. It has definitely felt like a once in a lifetime brief and life experience.
LS: Talk us through the creative and how you came to these final films.
MA: This brief was not about creating a big idea, as the big idea itself is the project of connecting businesses in the Falklands. Thanks to Square and Mastercard, the island has evolved from a sleepy cash-filled town to an early-adopter, and is leading the way with the latest payment technology. I wanted the creative to capture the authentic essence of the people and the businesses whose lives have been transformed by this tech.
I’ve known the photographer and director Jane Stockdale for 10 years or so. Through working with her as she started out, I’ve watched her career bloom and have always craved the right moment to work with her. As soon as this brief landed, I knew she was going to be the perfect creative to capture this unique story, through her eyes, lens, and her method; from a cinematic and stills perspective.
LS: Tell us about some of the incredible people you met along the way.
MA: The Falklands itself only has a population of 3,500 (humans are outnumbered by penguins more than 100 to 1) – and it is one of the most remote places on earth. To even get to the islands is a mission – a 20hr RAF Air Tanker flight from Brize Norton is the only direct way to get to the islands. So before you have even landed you feel very honoured and special to even be there.
I was overwhelmed by the sheer openness and welcoming of the Stanley community and spirit. The people I met are so warm ‘salt-of-the-earth’ type people, that filled me with such good emotion. I met a few real-life Falklanders, who have lived there through generations upon generations, as well as the Island folk who had gone there for a few months but never left. Each and every one had a different story and reason why they stayed, but the common theme was that the Island has a magical spell, the kind of spell which gets under your skin and never lets you go!
It's that pioneering spirit that makes them just that little bit different. The business owners we met were all pioneers and had a great story to tell. I feel humbled to share these stories through our films, photography, and this one-of-a-kind campaign.
LS: What will be your overriding memory of this unique project?
MA: The landscapes, the sunsets and sunrises, the clarity of light, the wildlife, and the people. I’ll never forget the memory of sitting on the sand and looking a penguin in its eye; to get so close to something so incredible and unphased in its true wild environment will be something I’ll take with me forever.
With only one cash machine and bank branch on the Islands, residents and the tens of thousands of annual tourists alike were feeling the burden of cash as they queued up at the bank or paid with international currencies. Or worse still, businesses missed out on sales, as dealing in cash alone had become untenable.
Mastercard connected the Falkland Islands Government to Square, and the three organisations formed a partnership to solve the challenges that made taking cards so uniquely difficult for this island community. This included helping sellers access the bank accounts needed for payments settlement and Square's with mobile readers to take payments and to integrate the latest Mastercard technology.
Square was a perfect fit for the Islands’ small businesses as it could easily be set up by the seller and the software and hardware updated automatically. This enabled them to start transacting right away without anyone from Square ever needing to set foot on the Falklands. With no long term contracts or monthly subscriptions, Square was also a good fit for the Islands’ seasonal businesses who wanted a flexible payment option that wouldn’t charge them during the quieter winter months.
“We have been a cash-heavy society for many years,” said Tim Waggott, Financial Secretary for the Falkland Islands Government.“But with increasing visitor numbers, we knew we needed to help our local businesses to make the shift to card payments. My predecessor here, James Wilson, had been working with industry to find a solution and we are really pleased it has finally come to fruition with Square and Mastercard.
“With the coronavirus pandemic it’s clearly an uncertain time for our business community, but they are resilient and used this time to get set up for the future. When the tourist trade returns, it’ll be more important than ever that we can give everyone safe and convenient ways to pay. This is a huge step forward which will ensure that our industry is well-positioned to meet future demand and that Falkland Islands businesses are more financially empowered to expand.”
One of the most remote places on earth
Jack Dorsey, CEO and co-founder of Square, said: “Running a business is always hard ,and these business owners have the added challenge of being in one of the most remote places on earth. Connecting the Falklands is a big step in creating a more inclusive global economy.”
Mark Barnett, President of Mastercard Europe, said: “Empowering small business is at the heart of what we do. This project transforms business opportunities for Islanders and significantly improves the experience for locals and tourists alike, who can now pay simply and safely using Mastercard’s latest payment technology including our sonic acceptance mark. Having been set the challenge of bringing payments to the Islands, we are delighted to have been able form this partnership and we wish the Islands’ businesses every future success.”
Hattie and Kevin Kilmartin run Bluff Cove,
a tour company with a gift shop and museum that was the first to trial
the technology. Their previously cash-only business now takes 80% of
their annual revenue through Square. “The impact has been
significant. Our business is around half an hour’s drive from the
capital Stanley where there is the only ATM, so our takings were
literally limited by the amount of cash in someone’s pocket,” said Kevin. “Now people can spend significantly more with us as thanks to Square we can take credit and debit cards”
Before taking payments with Square, Sparky Ewen, Managing Director of Falklands Helicopter Services, ran a cash-only business, which was not practical for the international tourists who would arrive by cruise liner assuming they could pay by card. He said: “It’s been a game-changer. With Square, we can now take payments online, over the phone and onsite for walk-up bookings. We can run the business on the move and spend less time worrying about cash and more time doing what we love - giving our visitors a bird's eye view of one of the most beautiful places on earth.”
Client: Tyesha Friday, Square
Client Services Director: Alix Vonk, Harvard
Creative Director: Marc Allenby, Harvard
Producer: Johnny Brock, Harvard
Director and Photographer: Jane Stockdale
DOP: Max Cutting
2nd Camera: James Dougan
Field Sound & Drone: Tamara Stubbs
Post Sound & Music: Daniel Brangwyn
Colour: Caroline Morin, Wash
Editor: Max Cutting & James Dougan
Copywriter: Neel Sood
Title design: Chelsea Lee
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