TTIFC chair Young: Trinidad and Tobago up for challenge of digital payments

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

TT International Financial Centre (TTIFC) chairman Richard Young. PHOTO BY JEFF K MAYERS.

Chairman of the TT International Financial Centre (TTIFC) Richard Young is optimistic that TT is capable of successfully transitioning to a cashless society with the adoption of digital payment technologies.

At the opening session of the Commonwealth Fintech Toolkit workshop at the Radisson Hotel, Wrightson Road, on Tuesday, Young outlined the advantages of digital payment in strengthening local industry.

Describing TT as a “leading financial hub” in the Caribbean, Young said the development of a digital payment system would not only improve the ease of doing business but also close the gap for financial inclusion by allowing the state to accurately assess how much of the public uses banking institutions.

Referring to countries like Sweden, Australia, the United Kingdom and China which have successfully transitioned from cash transactions to digital payments, Young said there was great potential for investment in TT if similar systems were introduced and called on government stakeholders to push for a more digitised economy.

“This would establish TT as an attractive market for leading financial services providers, use TT as a testing ground for new digital financial service capabilities as we aim to build cutting edge payment services and becoming a showcase for the wider Caribbean through the examples of our public sector.

“We know that the task lies before us as we seek to create an engaging fintech ecosystem and cashless society in TT, we are more than up for the challenge.”

Young acknowledged while there may be challenges in the rollout of systems of digital transactions, he was confident the workshop would pool ideas from different stakeholders and said progress has been made in the set-up of policies and systems for fintechs.

“We have been making significant inroads in the implementation of our digital payments roadmap which we are already seeing tremendous benefits as we work together building a thriving ecosystem for our local fintech sector, positioning our country as the leading fintech hub of the region.”

For his part CEO of the TTIFC John Outridge said one of the major accomplishments of the centre was a recent partnership with the Treasury Division of the Ministry of Finance in facilitating government payments.

Outridge said the set up of digital financial services was a major step as it created a system where service providers for government agencies and receive payment digitally.

“We are providing a mechanism for people who do business in cash to now transact with the state and to have fintech playing a part in terms of providing a user interface and providing the infrastructure to allow this to happen and this is a revolutionary approach.

“What we are basically talking about here is the decentralisation of revenue collection from government using the private sector so I would definitely acknowledge the hard work done by the Treasury Division in making this happen.”

Outridge added that the roll out of a digital payment system would also connect with people who may be unbanked and those living in rural areas by improving accessibility to government services.

He also called on participants to make the most of the workshop to formulate ideas and develop strategies to promote digital financial services in TT.