Photo: Delegates are gathered at the 3-day "Building a FinTech Platform for Seychelles" Workshop in Seychelles on 8 May, 2019.

Central Bank of Seychelles hosts FinTech workshop to build national strategy

The Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS) on 8 May kicked off a workshop aimed at exploring how the country can best leverage financial technology (FinTech) to improve access to financial services and facilitate broader digital transformations.

Organised by CBS, the Seychelles Financial Services Authority, the Ministry of Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning in the Seychelles, the two-and-a-half-day event is providing a peer exchange platform for sharing knowledge and ideas among policymakers, industry stakeholders and private sector representatives. The Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) is supporting the workshop, along with the World Bank Group.

Welcoming close to 150 participants, CBS Governor Caroline Abel outlined the importance of the workshop in developing “sound policies and guidelines”, grounded in the expertise and practical experiences of global partners.

“It important to have such dialogues among the implementers of FinTech solutions, policymakers and regulators … so that there is a comprehensive understanding of the opportunities and challenges of such developments,” she said.

CBS, she added, had already begun embracing new innovations in the payments sphere, including by drafting e-money regulations, adjusting policies to ease cross border transactions and foreign exchange, and reforming the National Payments Council.

For the Central Bank, however, the changes do not stop there with hopes that input from the workshop’s various sessions will help with the development of a National FinTech Strategy.

“The next few days will further enhance our efforts to enable FinTech to play a greater role in the development of the National Payment System and other financial infrastructures, improving small and medium enterprise (SME) access to credit, fostering capital market development, enhancing competition and innovation and promoting greater financial stability,” she said.

In his address, AFI Deputy Executive Director Norbert Mumba highlighted two main aspects for facilitating FinTech development “without compromising the stability and integrity of the financial sector.”

The first was enabling policy and infrastructure by exploring innovative regulatory approaches and creating digital and financial infrastructure. The latter, he said, involved building renewable energy sources, developing stable internet connectivity communities and hubs, and leveraging cloud-technology and shared platforms for financial services. Second, was the promotion of collaboration and partnerships both across the domestic, regional and global levels but also to industry, academia, researchers, innovators and technologists in order to co-create solutions to advance financial inclusion.

He ended his remarks with a call to action among regulators, market players and other stakeholders.

“The need for better market conduct and enhanced financial capability is never out of fashion even in the advent of the glory of financial technology.”

Underscoring the importance of the workshop was Seychelles Vice President Vincent Meriton and Minister for Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning Maurice Loustau-Lalanne.

Meriton added his support for a National FinTech Strategy, saying that it would “contribute towards the overall synergy and coordination that will guide efforts to build the country’s FinTech ecosystem and subsequent development of the financial sector.” He also thanked AFI for its support and guidance.

Meanwhile, Loustau-Lalanne said that a FinTech ecosystem would increase competitiveness and diversity to the benefit of the domestic financial market and the growing offshore industry. The ministry, he said, had already begun digitalizing the national economy as part of wider efforts to digitally connect every individual, business and government in Africa by 2030.

While he said that Seychelles was “a little bit behind” in terms of adopting FinTech solutions, it was streaks ahead in terms of financial inclusion with 94 percent of its population banked and mobile service penetration at 185 percent.

CBS has been a member of AFI since 2014 and is an active participant of the network’s digital financial services (DFS) and consumer empowerment and market conduct (CEMC) working groups, even hosting the 13th CEMC and 8th SME Finance (SMEF) Working Group meetings in 2017.


WATCH: Livestream recordings from the "Building a FinTech Platform for Seychelles" Workshop

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"Building a FinTech Platform for Seychelles" Workshop