As fintech continues to grow as a multi-billion-dollar industry that is revolutionising financial services, the Caribbean market is enjoying significant growth.
Kingston, Jamaica; Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; Cockburn Town, the Turks and Caicos Islands; and Bridgetown, Barbados all offer vibrant city locations that are emerging as fintech hubs.
Kingston, the capital of Jamaica, is considered to be one of the leading tech hubs in the Caribbean. With a growing number of start-ups and incubators locating and expanding within the city, it is one of the top locations for fintech investment across the region.
As recently as 2018, it was named Nearshore City of the Year at the Nexus event held in San Francisco.
With a recently launched programme designed to stabilise and grow the economy through business investment, Kingston has become a more attractive option for business start-ups and expansions, driving more fintech companies to make their base in the city.
To encourage and attract fintech companies to Kingston, the Jamaican government and regulatory bodies have made it easier for companies to trade across international borders.
With reduced compliance for importing and exporting via a new advanced digital customs data management platform, fintech investors can utilise a streamlined infrastructure that enables enhanced digital capabilities across the sector.
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is one of the wealthiest countries in the Caribbean, with the Port of Spain showcasing much of that status.
The Fintech Association of Trinidad and Tobago is a recently established body that promotes the Port of Spain as leading city for fintech investment. The organisation supports and champions the industry, encourages investments and helps build business infrastructures for the sector.
Fintech has the potential to boost Trinidad and Tobago’s financial sector and help the island’s economy attract further investment.
With high-income proceeds from the international sale of natural gas and the Port of Spain International Waterfront project constructed on former Port Authority Land, tourism and trade are booming in the city.
The country’s government is also represented within the Trinidad and Tobago Financial Centre. With a focus on fintech, the organisation pursues fintech business investors and supports regional digitalisation initiatives in the financial services sector, a move designed to further boost fintech and cement Trinidad and Tobago’s status as a true hub of the industry.
Barbados has a well-developed mixed economy, a relatively high standard of living and it is ranked as one of 83 high-income economies in the world, according to a recent World Bank report.
One critical reason Bridgetown is one of the best cities for fintech start-ups in the Caribbean is the growing demand for such products throughout Barbados, with Barbadians showing increasing enthusiasm for fresh, innovative financial services.
With Caribbean fintech investment on the rise, Barbados is harnessing the stringent intellectual property laws alongside its well-regulated services sector, creating a favourable and secure environment for potential fintech sector investors.
This fiscally compliant environment has made Bridgetown, and Barbados in general, an emerging fintech hub.
The FSC, Barbados’ Financial Services Commission, and the Central Bank of Barbados operate a regulatory sandbox to allow live testing of new and innovative financial products within a controlled setting.
The first major success in this sector was the mMoney app, allowing peer-to-peer transactions as well as digital payments facilitated by blockchain, something that has helped Bridgetown to emerge as a prosperous fintech city. This kind of successful fintech endeavour is helping grow fintech investment across the island and the region.
In a move that will further cement Bridgetown’s status as a top Caribbean fintech city, the FSC has announced it will establish a Stakeholder Advisory Committee for the International Business Sector and a FinTech Advisory Committee to help with developing Barbados as a fintech and blockchain hub.
Fintech innovators and leaders already located in Bridgetown are looking to ensure that Barbados becomes a fintech hub of choice not just in the Caribbean, but worldwide.
In late 2022, the inaugural FinTech conference in Barbados showcase the growth and continued potential of Climate Fintech, Cryptocurrencies and Decentralised Finance and Embedded and Open Finance.
The event included contributors, CEOs and fintech leaders from North America, Latin America (LATAM), Europe and Africa, highlighting the global interest in the Caribbean fintech markets.
Cockburn Town, the Turks and Caicos Islands
Boasting a strong and growing economy, a pro-business environment and government-backed tax incentives, investing in the Turks and Caicos Islands is an attractive proposition for anyone involved in the fintech industry.
The Turks and Caicos Islands are a British Overseas Territory consisting of the larger Caicos Islands and smaller Turks Islands, two groups of tropical islands in the Lucayan Archipelago of the northern West Indies.
Though the islands are known primarily for tourism and as an offshore financial centre, their investment strengths include a growing and highly regarded fintech sector.
Government and businesses behind best cities for fintech start-ups in the Caribbean
As part of Singapore FinTech Festival contribution in 2020, Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley stressed that her government is prioritising digital government opportunities and building a tech-savvy society that includes fintech expansion.
With a commitment to retraining the workforce with tech skills and fintech-specific capabilities, the Barbados Ministry of Information, Science and Technology is endorsing and investing in the fintech sector.
Barbados-based company BITT Inc has now established itself as a major player in the blockchain space, providing technical support to central banks to establish digital versions of their currencies and making Bridgetown a true fintech city hub.
As fintech strengthens its presence in Bridgetown, the benefits of promoting fintech entrepreneurship among the population and encouraging investment in this growing space bolsters the local economy.
This includes macroeconomic benefits such as foreign exchange and employment generation, foreign direct investment flows and export diversification.
In turn, the fintech industry encourages and nurtures financial inclusion and access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises and individuals through more swift, more simplified payment and fundraising platforms.
Information: Data and Statistics from Caribbean Chambers of Commerce, Statista, Invest in Turks and Caicos, Our World in Data and Turks and Caicos Government Statistics, Jamaica Tourism, Barbados Chamber of Commerce, Fintech TT.