Financial technology (fintech) has the potential to stimulate economic growth, create new job opportunities, reduce poverty, and enable more people to participate in the formal financial system.
These possibilities were highlighted during the Fintech Islands Experience 2024 (FiX24) Conference at Sam’s Lord Castle, A Wyndham Grand Resort. Policymakers from across the region were among the delegates championing the adoption of fintech, recognizing the positive impact that it can have on the region’s development and the promotion of financial inclusivity.
Speaking during a session on day one on the topic ‘Banking on a Sustainable Path: Accountability, Transparency, and Commitment to Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation’, Chad Blackman, Barbados’ Minister of Economic Affairs and Investment, said it is important that the international financial community understands that it cannot be business as usual.
Minister Blackman added, “Given governments’ limited fiscal space, but yet the high demand to spend on priority areas, I think it presents a unique opportunity for the private sector to be able to offset some of the needs that governments would have. Of course, governments will raise revenue through taxes and traditional areas, but I think there is a role that the private sector has to play. It has to be a whole of society approach; it cannot be government alone. Government has to act as the regulator, offering an environment that allows the private sector to play its part.”
On day two of the conference, the Minister of Economy and Labour of Bermuda, Jason Hayward, said it is essential that regional governments support the evolution of fintech, describing it as an economic development tool which leads to business creation, employment opportunities and improvements in business operations.
“We must ensure that fintech moves from the fringes of our societies to the mainstream use of our societies. Fintech is an important tool; it is a way in which we connect individuals to financial services that they may have had barriers or impediments of accessing in the past,” Minister Hayward said.
Meanwhile, Turks and Caicos Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance, Investment and Trade, E. Jay Saunders, said that through fintech, the unbanked and underbanked people across the region can be included in the banking sector. He noted that the countries across the region currently face regulatory, technological, and financial hurdles that must be addressed to advance fintech.
“I’ve been looking at angel financing and venture capital financing in the Caribbean. I think that once we get over those hurdles and Caribbean entrepreneurs start to change from the early growth stage to mature companies; then we can own the full eco-chain in the Caribbean. I don’t think that it will make for a good ecosystem if we have foreign companies outside of the Caribbean just coming in and dominating. We want it to be a more Caribbean product for Caribbean people,” the Deputy Premier stated.
The FiX24 conference ran from January 24-26, 2024.