Throughout the Blue Pacific, the facilitation of online payments has presented ongoing challenges. As one of the least banked regions in the world, payment processing options traditionally offered by large banks have been inaccessible to many, offering a ‘one size fits all’ approach, including large security bonds with lengthy set-up times. This lack of a nuanced Pacific-first response has allowed for further disparity in an economic environment heavily reliant on fluid cash flow.
In 2020, the Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) Network’s Pacific Business Monitor report revealed that improving and implementing online capabilities was the third highest priority for businesses looking to action initiatives that would support their business, with nearly a third seeking support to sell online. Similarly, PTI Australia’s Biennial Pacific Islands Export Survey, which collected data prior and during the onset of COVID-19 in early 2020, found that 74 per cent of responding exporters generate revenue through online channels. The survey also revealed that of those who do not use online channels to generate revenue, more than a third cite lack of access to an affordable online payment system as a reason for not doing so. This further demonstrates that while digital and e-commerce platforms have become an integral element of doing business, the lack of an affordable online payment system has remained a key barrier for Pacific businesses using these channels.
In efforts to address this growing issue in the Pacific, PTI Australia has supported the partnership between Kovena, an online payment solution provider, and hotel management system Hotel Link, to develop ‘Hotel Link Pay’, a new and innovative payment platform for the Pacific tourism sector.
Hotel Link and Kovena created ‘Hotel Link Pay’ to offer accommodation providers a fully integrated solution to process online payments cost-effectively and efficiently via their Hotel Link Booking engine or Front Desk module. It is expected that the integration will pave the way for Kovena as a payment solution in other industries throughout the Pacific, with the pilot currently running in Fiji.
Most recently, PTI Australia partnered with the Fiji Hotel and Tourism Association, WHL, Hotel Link and Kovena to introduce professionals from Fiji’s hospitality and accommodation sector to ‘Hotel Link Pay’ via a webinar.
The Online Payment Solutions webinar took place on Wednesday 6 October via Zoom and hosted over 80 participants from across Fiji’s travel and tourism sector. As part of PTI Australia’s Digital Tourism program, the highly successful webinar addressed familiar industry pain points such as the rigidity of traditional banking solutions, variance found in service fees, large security bonds and lengthy set-up lead times.
Speaking at the webinar, General Manager of Kovena, Samuel Rutledge, said the new platform presented exciting opportunities for Pacific businesses.
“We see this new platform as a game-changer for tourism operators in the Pacific. Operators can now get rid of faxing or scanning forms, and access online payments software while offering their customers a secure, streamlined online payment experience.”
CEO of Hotel Link, the leading provider of hotel and accommodation software for the Asia-Pacific region, Len Cordiner, said the integration came at an optimal time for the Pacific.
“With tourism in the Pacific so badly impacted by the pandemic, we felt it was even more critical for the service rollout, to enable operators of all sizes to accept payments from guests locally and internationally. This was previously a service that was hard for small and medium-sized operators to access, and often extremely costly. With positive talks around some of the Pacific borders opening, particularly in Fiji, we felt it was time to share the news of this innovative payment solution – Hotel Link Pay.”
Onorina Fugawai, PTI Australia’s Tourism and Investment Project Officer, says the ‘Hotel Link Pay’ product will be an exciting addition to the PTI Digital Tourism program.
“Pacific Trade Invest Australia has strongly supported the development of the ‘Hotel Link Pay’ product, as we are committed to bridging the digital divide within the Pacific while ensuring e-commerce is as accessible as possible for Pacific operators. We look forward to offering the ‘Hotel Link Pay’ product to all Pacific tourism operators partaking in our Digital Tourism program in the future.”
If you would like to find out more about the PTI Digital Tourism program and the Hotel Link Pay platform, please contact PTI Australia’s Tourism and Investment Project Officer, Onorina Fugawai, at firstname.lastname@example.org.