Between April 27 and April 28, the Digital Financial Services (DFS) Workshop was held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, to inform Caribbean stakeholders from numerous industries about technological innovations that are improving the global financial sector. The Workshop specifically discussed decentralized systems that would allow for the exchange of goods and services using non-traditional monetary tools. The adoption of digital currencies within the Caribbean region was discussed as well. In attendance were a number of Caribbean government representatives, domestic and global information and communications technology (ICT) organizations, regulators, network operators, and innovators.
The workshop was a collaborative effort by a number of organizations such as: the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU), the government of Trinidad and Tobago, the University of the West Indies St. Augustine Campus, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC), and Pinaka Technology Solutions.
During his opening remarks, CTU President and Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Energy, Immigration, Telecommunications and Invest Barbados, Darcy W. Boyce, called for a consolidated effort to improve the region’s digital finance sector.
“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,” said Boyce.
He further stated that integration of digital financial services can contribute significantly to the economic growth in the Caribbean:
“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.”
During the panel discussion, Melford Nicholas, Antigua & Barbuda Minister of Information, Broadcasting, Telecommunications & Information Technology, addressed issues and potential solutions related to digital currency use within the region: “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.” Nicholas went on, “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 DFS Workshop builds upon the CTU’s 15th Caribbean Ministerial Strategic ICT Seminar held in Antigua and Barbuda in March, which provided a greater understanding to how ICT was impacting the financial services sector.