Transforming the Caribbean’s Financial Ecosystems

Financial Ecosystems

Why this island celebrated fintech

By Ryan Peterson
CJ Contributor

It is a truism that the global financial ecosystems are experiencing an unprecedented period of technological transformation and disruptive innovation of digitizing money, monetizing data, and virtualizing experiences. Digital currencies, mobile banking, blockchain infrastructures, and smart data analytics are transforming the financial fabrics of payments, funding, investments, trading, and beyond.

With an estimated global value of US$ 25 billion and the potential to boost economic growth by a good 3 to 5 percent, FinTech is likely to become a force majeure; one that will not only impact traditional financial incumbents and institutions, but more importantly enable much needed financial inclusion and  economic innovation in the Caribbean. Globally, more than 50 percent of consumers have already adopted one or more FinTech services, and well over 80 percent of banks are expected to initiate blockchain projects by 2017.

While some FinTech pundits argue that it is only a matter of time before FinTech creatively deconstructs the established order, others proclaim that leading financial institutions will retain key advantages, which will allow them to adopt new digital technologies to remain competitive. The latter, however, remains a challenge, as traditional financial institutions face legacy systems and cultures. In fact, less than 20 percent of financial institutions seem to be ‘strategy ready’ for FinTech.

Needless to say, the financial ecosystems of the future will increasingly become digital, hence posing some interesting questions and scenarios for regulators and central banks, who slowly but surely are engaging in FinTech consortia and regulatory ‘sandboxes’.

In commemorating its 30th anniversary, last week the Central Bank of Aruba (CBA) organized Aruba’s first FinTech executive summit on Financial Technology and the Future of Money. With an extensive program featuring different international, regional and local experts and entrepreneurs from ‘Fin & Tech’, the conference engaged in thought-provoking and insightful discussions on the trends, technologies and transformations that are shaping the architecture of our financial ecosystems.

Leading authorities and experts participating at the CBA FINTECH summit included, Mr. Gabriel Abed, CEO Bitt; Mr. Aron Dutta, VP IBM Blockchain Leader; Mr. Stefan Oosterwaal, CEO Arubits; Mr. Dustin Ling, Director, Citi Corporate & Investment Banking; Ms. Veronica Lange, Chief Innovation Officer, UBS; Mr. Michiel van Doeveren, Senior Advisor Payment Systems, DNB.

Ryan R. Peterson PhD is General Manager for Economic Policy at the Central Bank of Aruba. For most of his professional and scientific career he has worked on the governance and resilience of digital ecosystems in financial services, tourism and academia, with a special focus on small island economies.  All views and expressions are solely his. He can be reached at rpeterson-at-cbaruba-dot-org.


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