BVI To Venture Into Financial Technology

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Business and technology is soon going to merge seamlessly in making business more attractive in the Territory and as a result strengthen the BVI position in the financial sector. This is because the government is making good on its promise to explore Financial Technology (FinTech).

As a further demonstration of plans to implement FinTech in the BVI it was recently announced that a Steering Group has been established to focus on investigating the potential, returns, and opportunity for the Territory as it relates to this global phenomenon.

The decision was made by Cabinet on 1 November and was announced on 14 November. The announcement states that Cabinet agreed to the establishment of a FinTech Steering Group to advise on economic and business opportunities provided by the development of FinTech for the Virgin Islands.

The members of the Steering Group were not named, however it was mentioned that the Group submit its work plan and preliminary report to Cabinet by 30 November.

The establishment of the Group is the fulfillment of a promise that was made by Premier and Minister for Finance, Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith during a press conference on 31 May prior to his tour in Asia.

The establishment of the Steering Group follows on the heels of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the National University of Singapore and the Government of the Virgin Islands on 12 November.

The aim of the arrangement is to assist through educational and training support in BVI government plans to boost new business in the FinTech area.

During the signing of the MOU Premier Smith reflected on the fact that during his BVI Asia Trade Mission back in June he was able to visit, learn and have a series of discussions at the National University of Singapore NUS). He also referenced the fact that Professor Keith Carter from the NUS visited the BVI in late July and conducted a two-day FinTech Immersion Course at the H Lavity Stoutt Community College and a series of workshops and talks with senior Government officials, members of the business communities and members of the House of Assembly.

The Premier said that Professor Carter’s visit ignited interest in what was described as the ‘ABCD Economy’ – AI (Artificial Intelligence), Blockchain, Cryptocurrency and Data.

“Now, I am very pleased to witness the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding for education, research and consultation in these areas between the National University of Singapore and the British Virgin Islands. This is of great benefit to the whole Territory including our Financial Services Industry represented today by Executive Director of BVI Finance, Mrs. Lorna Smith, OBE,” Hon. Smith said at the signing.

He also noted that the agreement between the government and the NUS will be essential in Government move to re-position itself digitally and to foster innovation, investment and the development of new businesses in all sectors of the BVI economy.

“As we enter an era of digital change, the relationship fostered between NUS and the BVI with this MoU will generate tangible results through the exchange of ideas, expertise, and the application of academic insight and research to real-world problems and opportunities,” Hon. Smith added.

Already the Territory began its FinTech conversion mission with the House of Assembly’s amending of the Finance and Money Services Act on 14 August. The amendments were geared towards facilitating the use of mobile money in the Territory.

The now amended Act has a modified definition of financing and an expanded definition of money services business. This means that the BVI can now utilize other means of money transfer besides the popular Moneygram and Western Union. In the near future things such as electronic money, mobile money and payment and other alternative methods of money payment transmission will be possible in the Territory.

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