UNCDF Digital Payment Workshop
Emerging issues related to the use of digital financial technology in the Caribbean were in focus at a recent regional workshop held in Port of Spain.
Over 230 persons from across the Caribbean participated in the three-day Technical Workshop which ran from January 17-19 and was the first in a series titled “Advancing Digital Payments & Financial Inclusion Across the Eastern Caribbean”. The series of workshops have been brought to the region through the Global Partnership on Digital Finance for Resilence between the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), European Union (EU) and Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS). It was supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) whose Trinidad and Tobago Multi-Country Office hosts the UNCDF Eastern Caribbean Regional office.
Minister of Finance Colm Imbert opened the proceedings with the keynote address which provided global perspectives on financial inclusion and insights on Trinidad and Tobago’s approach to developing a cashless society. This included the establishment of new entities to lead the cashless agenda and aa strong political will to develop an enabling environment for digital finance.
Minister Imbert noted that Financial Inclusion enables many elements critical to national development such as economic growth and economic support to agricultural development, educational advancement, development of robust and sustainable businesses, increased savings, consumption, investment opportunities, and specially designed financial instruments and solutions to support and empower vulnerable groups. " Financial inclusion is thus at the heart of financial sector transformation and economic recovery", he said.
The workshop was attended by the Minister of Digital Transformation, the Honourable Senator Hassel Bacchus and the Minister of National Security, the Honourable Fitzgerald Hinds. Regulators and related stakeholders from Trinidad and Tobago as well as the Eastern Caribbean states were also in attendance.
The Regional Workshop Series was launched in response to regional requests, and this first workshop focused on:
- Regulating, licensing and supervising E-money and fintech; and
- Cybersecurity for mobile and digital payment services.
The event, which was attended by over 80 in-person participants and over 150 people virtually, provided participants with lessons learned from leading experts from across the world and mapped possible solutions to responsibly enable digital finance for regulators in the region, focusing on harmonization and collaboration.
Addressing the workshop, Ambassador for the European Union Peter Cavendish, noted the central role digital technologies play in increasing access to affordable financial products and services that meet the needs of people and businesses and in accelerating economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
“Cooperation on digital technologies is therefore very important and the reason that it is one of the EU's new pillars of support with partner countries. I am happy that I was able to join the workshop’s very informative presentation and extremely satisfied with the successful outcome of the three-day workshop. The take-away for all participants is that 'no-one should be left behind in the digital age'."
Escipión Oliveira Gomez, Assistant Secretary General for the Secretariat of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States noted that “OACPS was created, among others, to promote the integration of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries into the global market with a view to contribute to the eradication of poverty. That is exactly why peer exchanges like this are so important. They ensure that we learn from each other and find the best solutions for the islands of the Eastern Caribbean.”
UNCDF Programme Manager Bram Peters observed that “In the fast-changing digital economies, where the playing field constantly evolves, policies and regulations need to guide the growth of a robust and inclusive digital economy, while at the same time protecting its users. It has been very encouraging to see how representatives of regulatory bodies from across the region have contributed to the discussions these last three days as they have a key role to play in the design of effective frameworks. At UNCDF, through the Digital Finance for Resilience Programme, we are committed to leaving no one behind in the digital economy and look forward to continuing collaboration with Trinidad and Tobago and the Eastern Caribbean Islands States to ensure this.”
UNDP Resident Representative Gerardo Noto said at this pivotal moment, policymakers in Trinidad and Tobago and the Eastern Caribbean have demonstrated “strong commitment towards crafting solutions and approaches to responsibly enabling digital finance. At the UNDP, we believe digital finance and financial inclusion is a key enabler that contributes towards the sustainable development goals, and is a pre-requisite to building a strong digital economy. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to host the UNCDF Eastern Caribbean office and jointly expand our remit to support Governments across the Eastern Caribbean to reach their digital finance and financial inclusion goals”.
For further information please contact: Eastern.Caribbean@uncdf.org