Author: Jeevan A. Robinson | Date: 11 November 2019
An EC$16 million Fibre Optic Project has recently been signed for Montserrat.
Montserrat has been without international fibre optic connectivity for more than 20 years.
The People's Democratic Movement Team, led by Honourable Paul J. Lewis, has been busy outlining their ideas towards taking Montserrat on the True Pathway to Prosperity & Sustainability.
Within this framework, Hon Lewis and the PDM have plans to make Montserrat a Financial Technology (Fin-Tech) hub within the Eastern Caribbean.
Some of the preparations to make Fin-tech a viable option for employment creation and revenue generation for Montserrat once Fibre Optics is in place include:
1) Establishment of a Cyber Security Center
2) Trained local Cyber Security Experts.
3) Drafting of Bills to be taken to the Legislative Assembly upon re-election. These include:
a) The Cybercrime Bill 2019
b) The Data Protection Bill 2019
c) Electronic Evidence Bill 2019
d) Electronic Filing Bill 2019
e) Electronic Funds Transfer (Offences) Bill 2019
f) Electronic Transactions Amendment Act 2019
g) Copyright bill 2019
These bills are critical in allowing for the legal framework firstly to be in place for both citizens of Montserrat and international businesses to be able to operate to global standards with the relevant protections in place for their businesses.
See below the PDM's Strategy for bringing Fin-Tech to the fore for Montserrat:
Finance-Tech(FINTECH) & Blockchain: Economic Benefits for Montserrat
What is BlockChain?
Blockchain is a decentralized, distributed and public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the consensus of the network.
What is Fintech?
Financial technology (Fintech) is used to describe new tech that seeks to improve and automate the delivery and use of financial services. At its core, fintech is utilized to help companies, business owners and consumers better manage their financial operations, processes, and lives by utilizing specialized software and algorithms that are used on computers and, increasingly, smartphones. Fintech, the word, is a combination of "financial technology".
Legal Framework Required for Montserrat
Legislation for cross-border transfer of data: Montserrat will have to develop clear contractual obligations and rules in the legal framework so the firms who are willing to operate in Montserrat are clear as to how their businesses and transactions will be protected in Montserrat.
Development of the Financial Sector Policy: Without a clearly defined financial sector policy, the Government of Montserrat is at a disadvantage. The global financial landscape continues to change and having a clearly defined policy document that is flexible enough to accommodate the new financial reality of the global economy is a major step that must be taken at earliest. The PDM will work on getting this Policy in place.
Benefits to Montserrat
1. Well paid job creation: Having local-young-tech savvy persons being trained and working in blockchain will earn that person a much better pay than working with the government in Montserrat. That in itself is growth where persons making above average salary spend that money on consumption within the Montserrat economy. The private sector sees a direct benefit.
2. Revenue for Montserrat: Having a blockchain entity will allow the Government of Montserrat to collect registration fees (depending on the size of the entity-the larger the firm; more money in the treasury) so that is a revenue for the government.
But most importantly, Blockchain according to the Caribbean Association of Blockchain will be an industry of $20billion by 2024 and will grow exponentially. So even a fraction of that amount will put Montserrat on a sustainable trajectory of economic growth and will bring high paying jobs of the 21st century to Montserrat.
Different Services Blockchain Offers
a. Financial services is a natural component of blockchain technology. The growth of digital payment amongst global banks is taking seed and having financial services blockchain operations in Montserrat will allow major global banks to operate here without having a physical space located on the Island.
b. Retail and Services is another sector where any merchant who accepts digital money as payment can exchange their goods and services. Persons and companies involved in a supply value chain can use private blockchains to reduce transaction costs in their business relationships and make payments and transfers along the chain as well as pass information in a very transparent manner.
c. Agriculture: The growth in this area is huge.
i. Food Safety. This seems to be the area where most work has already been done because of the clear vested interest from both producer and consumer.
ii. Traceability. The benefit of buying local food is always described as “you know exactly where your food comes from and who grew it. You know it’s fresh”. What if we could make this happen at scale? Meaning, no matter where you bought your food, you knew not only where it came from, but when it was harvested and processed, and even who produced it. This could also go far to prevent food fraud, false labelling, and redundant middlemen.
d. The healthcare sector continues to benefit immensely from having blockchain technology to share and analyze a person’s health data; protection of that information and also sharing it with other experts in the health industry from doctors to pharmacists to health care workers to government.
As shown above, that is just a sampling of the PDM's plans for advancing Financial Technology Services on Montserrat to help out young people to become wealthy and create opportunity for themselves.