Unlocking the Power of Digital Payments for the Growth of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in the OECS
OECS Media Release
Friday, March 26, 2021 — The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission in partnership with the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility will host a Digital Payment Webinar and Expo, themed; “Unlocking The Power Of Digital Payments For the Growth of Micro Small And Medium Enterprises (MSME) in the OECS”.
The event, which is slated for Tuesday, March 30, 2021, will provide an opportunity for digital financial service providers operating, or whose solutions are available in the OECS to present and promote their existing or upcoming digital payment services to MSMEs and interested consumers in the audience.
Digital Financial Services (DFS) are financial services that rely on digital technologies for their delivery and use by consumers, and digital or electronic payments solutions that facilitate transactions to take place via digital or online modes, with no physical exchange of money. Presentations and discussions during the Webinar and Fireside Chat will include the International Trade Centre; the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility; the indigenous banks of the OECS; MSMEs and the ECCB.
The imperative for this event is can be found in a revelation from the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank’s (ECCB) Governor Timothy Antoine who indicated in 2019 that that paper-based transactions (cash and cheques) accounted for about 80-90% of all payments and 44% of the volume of transactions in the ECCU. This means that OECS MSMEs are still conducting most of their sales transactions using cash. Confining payments to cash only, however, can limit the potential of MSMEs to be more competitive, innovative and to experience growth.
Join the Expo and hear why the 2018 study conducted by Compete Caribbean titled, ‘Understanding the Role of Fintech Companies and Regulations in Enabling Caribbean MSMEs to Innovate and Grow’, states that the constraints to MSMEs in accessing electronic payment channels from traditional banks and “FinTech” firms include inaccessibility; high transaction costs; lack of awareness and resistance to change.
The World Bank indicates that Digital Financial Services (DFS), enabled by financial technology, has the potential to lower costs, increase speed, security and transparency and allow for more tailored financial services that serve marginalised communities, while the International Finance Corporation (IFC) also suggests that disruptive technologies and new entrants are radically changing the financial services industry thereby forcing traditional business models to adapt and transform economies.
In the OECS, the current COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for businesses to digitise and provide contactless solutions to customers thus magnifying the importance of strengthening the regional framework for digital payments.
The event is part of a broader project to strengthen the ecosystem for entrepreneurship and innovation in the OECS and will be followed by a programme to provide technical assistance and capacity building to a number of OECS MSMEs to onboard digital financial services and payment solutions in their business operations.
DATE: March 30, 2021
TIME: 9 AM (AST)