Omar Sultan-Khan

Flashback February 2020: Chief executive officer of the T&T IFC, Omar Sultan-Khan presents a token of appreciation to Ernst and Young partner, Maria Daniel, during the launch of the FinTech Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FinTech T&T) at the National Museum, upper Frederick Street in Port of Spain.

MOVING towards becoming a cashless country would require a proper public education campaign for citizens along with the financial sector to adopt to new technologies in order for it to become a reality.

That’s according to FinTech Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FinTech TT) president Maria Daniel who told Express Business that in order for this transformation to take place, there must be focus on awareness, as many people still do not know what fintech is.

“We have to educate, we have to tell the banks this is the service we are looking for and to let our regulator know that risks can be managed with technology. The aim is also to try to get people to stop being fearful of trying new things. Change must take place and it must take place now,” she urged.

FinTech TT, a non-profit organisation, was launched by the Trinidad and Tobago International Financial Centre Management Company (TTIFC) in February 2020 and handed over to the private sector in September 2020.

The association has representation from a wide cross-section of stakeholders. It has been creating a baseline to facilitate, share thoughts and integrate fintech at a national level which requires a “resourceful ally” for all the related stakeholders that would have to contribute to building the required enabling ecosystem.

In an interview with Express Business earlier this month, Daniel said the organisation marked one year on February 5 and noted that there is still a lot of groundwork to be done for the society and the financial sector to come on board.

Giving insight into some of its achievements over the past year, FinTech TT director, Keva Doyle, said creating the organisation’s website, which is aimed at attracting investors to help create a cashless society, was one of the highlights.

“Another achievement also was while still being cradled by the TTIFC, the interim management committee of FinTech TT lends its expertise by providing recommendations to the national e-money policy, which were collated with TTIFC and submitted for the Minister of Finance’s review and has since been adopted by Cabinet on August 04, 2020.

“The FinTech board, due to Covid, has been meeting virtually on ways of improving the efficiency and security of financial transactions.”

Doyle said FinTech TT, along with Ernest & Young, commissioned a survey a few weeks ago to get a feel from the wider public of whether they utilise the digital financial services and if it is now being used more because of Covid-19.

She said this survey runs till March 12, 2021 and will be done on a yearly basis to understand how citizens are embracing and adopting to the new technologies in the financial landscape.

Speaking of attracting investors, Tracy Hackshaw, another director of the association, said the aim is to attract local and regional investors as well as fintech organisations that share similar goals on mutually beneficial projects and initiatives, which can in turn into foreign exchange revenue for the country.

“We believe there are quite a lot of other potential investors that we need to unlock and I think from the standpoint of FinTech TT existing we can assist on queries that come through and also build our membership base. It’s easier for an investor, who wants to enter the country, to deal the association as opposed to dealing with a regulator,” Hackshaw said.

Giving her input on connecting with regional investors, Daniel said one of the association’s grand plans is to build a regional and international network and FinTech TT has already begun to connect with other fintech organisations.

“I spoke to someone in the United States who deals with a lot of fintechs and I explained how Trinidad and Tobago can be used as a testing ground for fintech solutions, but the bigger plan is first locally to have a massive public relations campaign in education about why the association is important.”

Daniel said that FinTech TT has already built a relationship with Singapore and the aim is to continue the networking globally.

Doyle chimed in and said that getting members to join the association is most important in order to draw more investors and grow the networking.

Also speaking to Express Business was Cheresse Fleming, another FinTech TT director, who indicated that the association is currently working on a paper, regarding best practices for developers or anyone who is interested in fintech solutions operating locally.

“We are collaborating with companies to develop the paper which would be of international standard so that the association can start using it, which will in turn set a standard for us locally,” Fleming said.

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