Financial technologies or FinTechs continue to take centre stage, as they are becoming more popular amongst both consumers and banks
alike. This ever-increasing appetite for digital payments brings together all of the players in the payments ecosystem with a view to ensuring that Trinidad and Tobago is well-placed to become the premier fintech-enablement hub of the region.
The introduction of digital payment methods and fintech-enabling systems across the public service and the broader financial services will continue to influence positive shifts in the rate of financial inclusion in Trinidad and Tobago, by giving citizens additional options to transact business and access vital services safely and conveniently.
Locally, the heavy dependence on cash-based transactions impacts both the Government and the population at large, many of whom remain unbanked and underbanked. As one of the largest branches of payments processing, the Government’s focus on the digitalization of payments poses significant benefits to bridging the digital divide by investing in the development of the local fintech sector. This will strengthen support for local businesses, while also connecting rural financial services. To this end, the Trinidad and Tobago International Financial Centre (TTIFC) is aggressively pursuing opportunities for collaboration and co-creation with the public and private sectors as well as international development institutions, to bring the Government’s vision for a ‘cashless society’ to fruition.
Accelerating the Adoption of Digital Payments Across the Public Sector
As the State Agency promoting the adoption of digital payments across the public sector, we already have the required building blocks in place to spearhead the shift of the public sector to digital payment methods. We are working assiduously on the deployment of electronic
funds transfer (EFT) instructions which will leverage the platforms of Payment Service Providers (PSPs) to enable the underbanked and unbanked to interact with the government through a combined network of over 1,500 agents across Trinidad and Tobago. This will allow for greater reach to citizens by offering a more convenient alternative to using cash, while also digitalising revenue collection, and encouraging the growth and sustainability of new fintech and payment alternatives that are more secure, efficient, convenient, affordable, accessible, and in line with the needs of the modern consumer.
All of this is being done in close partnership with important stakeholder groups such as the Ministry of Finance’s Treasury Division and other Ministries, Divisions, and Agencies (MDAs) that are taking the bold step toward digital payments. This revolutionary change has the potential to reduce the use of cash while also increasing the effectiveness of government transaction reconciliations, which can be completed in real-time and with less paperwork than the alternative, which is a significant barrier to the use of government and other critical financial services.
Promoting and Advancing our National Financial Inclusion Agenda
Ensuring that all people and businesses can access practical and affordable financial services to meet their needs by increasing financial inclusion levels in Trinidad and Tobago, is of paramount importance to the TTIFC. To do this, we must establish an appreciation of the relevant indicators, such as account ownership, penetration of access points, availability, use, and quality of services must be achieved in order to understand the types of interventions required to lower the levels of exclusion experienced.
In driving this mission, the TTIFC has partnered with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) as a part of this new global initiative for “Leveraging digital finance to increase the resilience of African, Caribbean, and Pacific Countries,” to leverage their technical assistance, training, and peer-to-peer exchange on various financial inclusion issues. In a short time, the UNCDF has already begun making material contributions toward our work in improving the rate of financial inclusion locally, as we prepare to conduct the first-ever national financial inclusion study in Trinidad and Tobago.
Developing an Enabling Digital Finance Ecosystem and Positioning T&T as the Fintech Enablement Hub of the Caribbean
By bringing important players together to coordinate efforts between the public and private sectors to implement cutting-edge innovations that will improve the lives of those we ultimately serve — the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago — the TTIFC continues to make rapid progress in the transformation of our local fintech sector. I can guarantee that the TTIFC would have made significant progress on many of its initiatives by the time you read this second issue of the FinTech Digest, helping Trinidad and Tobago and the rest of the region continues to experience transformational change and influence in the FinTech industry.