Digital Financial Services and Blockchain Technology in T&T
“The reality is we need a lot more electronic financial transactions to take place locally. A 2016 study by MasterCard showed that if we grew our electronic transactions by 30%, our GDP will increase by 3.5% to 4%.” said Glynis Alexander-Tam, General Manager of InfoLink Services Ltd. Alexander-Tam was speaking at the Trinidad and Tobago Internet Governance Forum hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Multistakeholder Advisory Group (TTMAG) at the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce Building on January 26th. The 2018 theme of the annual forum was aptly titled “Shape Your Digital Future”.
Alexander-Tam shared that there were close to 40 million LINX transactions locally every year and growing, 200,000 credit cards, 500 ATMs, 20,000 point of sales machines and 8,000 to 9,000 merchants depending on the time of the year. “However, there is room for both legacy infrastructures like LINX and new digital players. During this current challenging economic time, we need more entrepreneurs and organizations engaged in the digital space to contribute to the development of our society.”
WiPay; a local online payment platform, has helped about 10,000 entrepreneurs get their business payments online in the last 6 months. Aldwyn Wayne, CEO of WiPay, explained that the platform allows businesses to quickly and easily begin accepting cash or credit card payments online, from anywhere in the world, directly to their bank account and without the high fees and red tape associated with traditional banking.
The increasing popularity and innumerable advantages of Blockchain technology was also brought to the fore at the Forum. While the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, is undeniably the most renowned application of Blockchain technology, its potential goes beyond the confines of virtual currencies. Businesses and governments worldwide are revolutionizing the way transactions are conducted and data is shared by harnessing the potential of Blockchain’s secure, decentralized platform.
At its core, Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that allows faster, more secure and efficient data sharing. The Standard Chartered Bank explains that transactions on the database are referred to as ‘blocks’ and the system enables users to share their ledger of transactions with all approved participants on a given network. The transactions must be validated by the majority of participants in the system and once entered, they cannot be duplicated, erased or rewritten.
This system of validation reduces costs and saves time by removing the need for intermediaries such as banks. It also increases transparency, improves the efficiency of processes and lowers the risk of corruption.
Wayne, CEO of WiPay, stated, “The integration of Blockchain technology into everyday life has catapulted Estonia into the world’s most advanced digital nation and I envision the same for Trinidad and Tobago. Blockchain technology can not only improve the way we do things but it also gives consumers greater convenience. Once your data is stored on and validated by our application, there would be little need to even walk with your physical identification card or drivers permit. These along with your banking information, account details and much more can be accessible and verified at the tap of a screen. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Blockchain technology is the future.”