What happens when you bring together world-class speakers, innovation and financial technology (Fintech) within an ideal Caribbean paradise? You get The Fintech Islands Conference.
This 3-day Conference which took place from October 5th to the 7th, assembled Political Leaders, Banking CEOs, Investors, Thought Leaders, and Digital Entrepreneurs to network and discuss future business strategies against the picturesque backdrop of Needham’s Point, Barbados.
Aegis was a sponsor at the conference and we met IT Manager, Kevin Antoine to learn more about the conference and his key takeaways. He shared that this experience allowed him to explore the transformative power of financial technology on Caribbean businesses and contemplate what the future of money looks like.
Fintech enables businesses to become more agile by improving and automating the delivery and use of financial services by leveraging technology.
Some essential reasons for fintech services include:
Bridging the Gap
Fintech is key to financial inclusion as it will allow the underbanked and unbanked customers to effectively utilise appropriate financial services in a well-regulated environment. Customers classified as underbanked possess limited access to mainstream financial services, whereas unbanked persons have virtually no access to banking services and usually conduct cash transactions.
The Fintech Islands Conference justified the need to reach these types of customers and develop fintech even further within the Caribbean. During Covid-19, as people were not able to conduct face-to-face banking, fintech was necessary to maintain some level of economic activity. Underbanked and unbanked customers needed some degree of fintech to sustain their livelihoods during lockdowns.
Sharing and Accessing Data
Maintaining economic activity in a post-pandemic world also requires interoperability. As Kevin explained, “Interoperability allows computer systems or software to interact and exchange data seamlessly through the use of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)”. Open banking hinges on this interoperability and can give customers control over how their financial data is accessed and used in a secure and regulated manner. This can improve Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures when financial institutions conduct business with customers. Government agencies can also leverage a similar model through the use of digital identities.
Interoperability with digital identities can also be extended to healthcare where, a patient’s records can be decentralised and accessed by multiple institutions at the discretion of the patient.
Utilising Digital Currencies and Embedded Finance
The Conference also focused on Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), and embedded finance. On August 10th, 2022, the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (CBTT) issued a provisional registration to PayWise Limited as an electronic money (e-money) issuer. The CBTT has also developed a Fintech Policy that aims to facilitate an environment that promotes financial innovations while mitigating risks.
Additionally, Unipet’s “Convenience Pay” solution is a prime example of embedded finance. Customers who use the mobile fueling app can customize their purchase preferences and pay for fuel by activating the dispenser from their mobile device.
As conversations emerge around Cryptocurrencies, CBDCs, Decentralized Finance (DeFI) and the Future of Money, key takeaways for Caribbean businesses include:
Embrace to Digital Transformation and automation
Particularly post-Covid-19, businesses, banks, and other financial institutions are utilising fintech as a more efficient way to manage their financial operations and processes, facilitate business transactions, manage customers’ accounts and process payments online.
Modern financial institutions, Startups and Payment Providers are utilising fintech to reach underbanked and unbanked consumers. Our IT Manager Kevin summarised that “Without financial inclusion, countries cannot reach the pinnacle of business development and social progress until everyone has access and opportunities to digital financial management.”
Be ready to adapt
If there is one thing the pandemic has thought us, is how to be agile. The advancement of Fintech will disrupt the financial industry; therefore, we need all to be prepared.
Investing in Cyber Security is essential
Though exciting, progress breeds new challenges. An effective cybersecurity plan is essential for every business as it provides protection from the hordes of opportunistic hackers and threat actors who seek to steal data, sabotage systems, and extort funds.
For more details on The Fintech Islands Conference, check out their website https://www.fintechislands.com/
If you need any assistance with IT support services for your business, contact Kevin at email@example.com