Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago – “The ITU, UNECLAC, the CTU, the various bankers’ associations, the central bankers, the anti-money laundering regulators, the digital financial Services technology providers, the cyber security experts and the consumer protection officials need to see how we, as a region, can develop our regional DFS sector,” stated Hon. Darcy W. Boyce, the President of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, and Senator in the Office of the Prime Minister Energy, Immigration, Telecommunications and Invest Barbados.
Senator Boyce made a call for collaboration during the opening ceremony of the Digital Financial Services (DFS) Workshop, held in Port-of-Spain, 27-28 April, 2017.
The CTU President further gave the rationale for providing these services in the region: “Digital financial services, through the attributes of digital financial inclusion have significant potential to provide a range of affordable, convenient and secure banking services to the poor people, small and micro enterprises in the region.”
The Workshop was organised by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), in collaboration with the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT), the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, the University of the West Indies St. Augustine Campus (UWI), the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC), and Pinaka Technology Solutions.
The workshop follows on the heels of the CTU’s 15th Caribbean Ministerial Strategic ICT Seminar, which was held in Antigua and Barbuda in March, and had as its theme: ‘ICT Driving 21st Century Financial Services’. This Seminar laid a foundation of understanding of the impact information and communication technologies was having on financial services.
The primary purpose and objective of the interactive Workshop was to provide Caribbean stakeholders from various sectors with insight on technological innovations for improving financial transactions and financing arrangements. Specifically, it sought to explore online decentralised systems that allow people to exchange goods and services without using traditional monetary instruments, and to assess whether the adoption of digital currencies as an alternative currency in the Caribbean, can serve the needs of this region.
Speaking during panel discussions, the Hon. Melford Nicholas, Minister of Information, Broadcasting, Telecommunications & Information Technology, Government of Antigua and Barbuda, identified the challenges faced by the region in adopting digital currencies. “The greatest challenge may not be an ICT challenge. The challenge for our Caribbean societies and economies, is how do we get our Caribbean producers to be included in this new digital economy.”
Minister Nicholas took a bottom-up approach in assessing how best the region could transition to DFS. “We need to focus on the whole issue of trade. Economies are driven by consumer demands and purchases. In order to be included, we need to consider how our consumers operate within the context of global economy.”
The Forum was attended by a wide cross-section of delegates from Caribbean Governments regional and international ICT oganisations, regulators, network operators and innovators. (CTU Press Release)