Caribbean Telecommunications Union President Senator Boyce – The Region Needs to Develop the Digital Financial Services Sector

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“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, President of the Caribbean Telecommunications Union, and Senator in the Office of the Prime Minister Energy, Immigration, Telecommunications and Invest, Barbados.

Senator Boyce added, “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.”

His call for collaboration was made during the opening ceremony of the Digital Financial Services (DFS) Workshop, which was held in Port of Spain, and 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. The Seminar laid a foundation of understanding of the impact information and communication technologies was having on financial services.

The primary objective of the 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 the region.

During panel discussions, the Hon. Melford Nicholas, Minister of Information, Broadcasting, Telecommunications & Information Technology, Government of Antigua & 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 can 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.” •

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