Driving Digital Payments Transformation and FinTech Enablement in T&T and the Caribbean

June 26th, 2024

John Outridge, Chief Executive Officer, Trinidad and Tobago International Financial Centre (TTIFC)
John Outridge,
Chief Executive Officer,
Trinidad and Tobago International Financial Centre (TTIFC)

There has been a remarkable transformation of the financial services sector in Trinidad and Tobago, with the continuous flux of rapid technological advancements driving changing customer preferences. The digital financial services (DFS) sector’s ever-shifting landscape is fuelled by an array of emerging DFS solutions.

The rise of digital financial services in T&T

The financial services sector has experienced significant transformation due to technological advancements and evolving customer preferences. Emerging DFS solutions demand security and convenience, prompting leaders to adopt disruptive strategies to remain competitive in an era where digital tools and platforms are essential for financial transactions.

To promote the improvement of services to citizens, the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (GoRTT) has strategically aligned several initiatives around the digital transformation of the public sector. Digital payments and FinTech enablement have proven crucial to this digital evolution wave. As the agency of the Ministry of Finance tasked with this mandate, the Trinidad and Tobago International Financial Centre (TTIFC) is actively driving the transformation of digital financial services by collaborating across all necessary stakeholder groups to increase the adoption of digital payments across GoRTT, increase financial inclusion, and solidify Trinidad and Tobago’s position as a beacon of financial innovation, excellence, and FinTech enablement in the Caribbean.

To realise our vision, we draw on an expert workforce and knowledge of the local and regional regulatory environments affecting DFS, strategic public-private sector partnerships, and leverage industry expertise and best practices. Additionally, we continuously invest in research and development to define initiatives and solutions aligned to the unique needs of Trinidad and Tobago’s rapidly evolving DFS landscape.

Modelling a digital payments ecosystem for governments

Our commitment to transforming the DFS allows us to deliver tailored solutions that meet the unique needs of our stakeholders and their customers. We are enabling government payments online through electronic funds transfer (EFT) and Payment Service Provider Retail Payment Network (PSPRPN) Instructions and the deployment of an electronic cashbook (E-Cashbook) to enhance services. With these interventions, over 400,000 online transactions can now be processed using EFT techniques and the E-Cashbook through the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s TTBizLink Enhanced Application Software. Over 20,000 Housing Development Corporation of Trinidad and Tobago (HDC) clients can now make rent, lease-to-own, and mortgage payments online using TSTT’s ePay service, created in collaboration with TTIFC. The new CourtPay voucher system of the Judiciary of Trinidad and Tobago offers alternative payment methods for underbanked citizens.

Establishing a FinTech-enabled Hub

TTIFC launched ‘One Fintech Avenue’ in July 2023, a Caribbean FinTech innovation centre funded by the European Union-UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), VISA, Huawei Technologies, TSTT, and Amaranth Business Solutions Limited. The centre focuses on FinTech development and collaboration among stakeholders. Among its inaugural initiatives, the Caribbean’s first FinTech Sprint for Financial Inclusion, a bootcamp to develop digital payment solutions, was also held in July and funded four regional and international FinTechs to create e-commerce solutions for smallholder farmers, digital payment solutions for credit unions, and remote onboarding optimisation for D-Cash. With UNCDF’s DFS experts’ oversight, new FinTech solutions are expected to drive increased usage of these financial services.

Leading DFS transformation in the Caribbean

Creating meaningful change in local rates of financial inclusion underlies our ambition to drive DFS transformation in the Caribbean. The findings of a study on these issues, which is in its preliminary state, are already helping to identify opportunities for boosting financial inclusion locally. They will be used to build a national strategy and related programmes to assist unbanked and underbanked persons in Trinidad and Tobago. This, we hope, will serve as a model for other Caribbean countries trying to strengthen their financial resilience.

As the Ministry of Finance’s state agency advocating for change in the financial sector, TTIFC believes that collaboration across the commercial and governmental sectors, as well as on a regional scale, is critical to ensuring the sector satisfies demand and promotes financial inclusion. There is an urgent need for funding to help develop FinTech solutions and boost the usage of DFS solutions in Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean. The Caribbean can keep pace with global developments in digital financial services that are driving emerging consumer preferences by increasing funding access, capacity building, workforce development, and talent pipeline management strategies as some of the key areas for sustainable growth for sector transformation. Explore partnership opportunities with the TTIFC here: https://www.ttifc.co.tt/