Financial tech on the agenda for Commonwealth meeting in Bermuda

Bermuda Premier David Burt will address a two-day meeting of Central bank officials from the Commonwealth as they seek to agree on a framework that can help build robust fin-tech ecosystems in their countries.

The January 29-30 meeting will bring together leading fin-tech experts and central banks officials from Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe.

“This toolkit will be a valuable asset to help countries develop a conducive ecosystem.”

— Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General, Arjoon Suddhoo

Since the 1990s, fin-tech, the use of technology to improve and automate the use of financial services, has emerged as a cheaper, quicker and faster alternative to traditional banking. It has been growing faster than any other segment of the tech industry, reaching the global market value of about US$127 billion in 2018.

The London-based Commonwealth Secretariat said that while some member countries have become advanced fin-tech hubs, others have made relatively steady progress.

“The meeting will pool their experiences to identify model policy, legislation and regulation for a framework that can foster a healthy fin-tech environment. The framework will be part of a Commonwealth fin-tech toolkit, designed to help member countries improve financial inclusion, boost private and monetary sector development and achieve various other economic outcomes,” it added.

Image result for Commonwealth Secretariat
The London-based Commonwealth Secretariat

The Secretariat said that the fin-tech sector is known to have rapidly expanded access to finance through three major services.

“First, in developing countries where most citizens do not hold a bank account, it has enabled them to send and receive money via mobile phones. Second, the sector also offers several private-sector digital currencies such as bitcoin to help improve payment systems and cross-border transactions.

“Finally, fin-tech companies give microloans to cash-starved entrepreneurs and small business owners, which are normally uneconomical for traditional banks.”

It said that the proposed toolkit will guide all stakeholders including the treasury, central banks, telecom sector, and business industry to regulate fin-tech services, monitor the monetary system, improve cybersecurity and educate the public.

Apart from Premier Burt, the meeting will also be addressed by the Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General, Arjoon Suddhoo.

“We are grateful to the government of Bermuda for supporting the Commonwealth in this endeavour. “Some Commonwealth countries have excelled in the fin-tech industry. They have functional and technical experiences that can help other member countries leverage this innovation to maximise economic benefits,” said Suddhoo.

“In order for this technology to thrive in all our member countries, this toolkit will be a valuable asset to help countries develop a conducive ecosystem which not only makes a profit but can also address poverty and economic isolation,” Suddhoo added.