BELTRAIDE Hosts FinTech Forum to Boost Belizean Businesses

BELTRAIDE Hosts FinTech Forum to Boost Belizean Businesses

In a bid to propel Belizean businesses into the digital age, the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE) is working to enhance the utilization of financial technology (FinTech) across the country. Today, the organization held a FinTech forum geared toward fostering economic growth and competitiveness in Belize’s evolving business landscape. The event culminates National Competitiveness Month and was held in partnership with the International Development Bank (IDB). BELTRAIDE’s Executive Director Dr. Leroy Almendarez says it focused on educating businesses on the benefits of using technology to improve their services. 

Dr.Leroy Almendarez, Executive Director, BELTRAIDE: “We expect those who are in some way offering some kind of digital service are included or are using digital or fintech tools. So you see people there from Atlantic Bank, you see individuals from the Belize Bank, and all of those other entities and Digi, you know, they are a part of it as well. And also you see those providers, digital service providers, because once you create an ecosystem then it simply means, you know, really as we become more focused on the fact that the world is becoming more cashless there is a need to find an easier way for payments, for those to be engaged, you know, in digital forum, digital communications. So it’s those kind of things that we’re looking at. And so this afternoon in our network session all those providers, those of us within the enabling environment from the government side as well interacting with each other, getting their feedback and telling us what are some of those other things that they might see as their challenges and how then the government through the enabling environment can help to bridge those gaps. Because one of the big challenges we face in this country, and several of us mentioned it, the digital divide. And so with the banks with projects such as the Digital Connect Centers, which not only BELTRAIDE but the Ministry of Public Utilities also established true support from the UNDP and Taiwan we’ve been able to help to bridge that gap in some way where those who might not have been participants can now participate.”

Dr. Almendarez noted that financial technology services rely heavily on strong internet connectivity, which is not readily available in rural areas. 

Dr.Leroy Almendarez, Executive Director, BELTRAIDE: “That’s where it really becomes a challenge and I think the person who made the presentation from the IDB mentioned the fact that the backbone of all of this is a reliable internet service with the kind of bandwidth that wherever you are you can just use your smartphone and be able to access some of these digital services. But what we are finding now there’s hardly any area in Belize where you would not be able to access the internet. What you may not have is the infrastructure. And that’s why in those digital connect centers where it’s pretty much all over the country, you can go not to an internet cafe because there’s a cost to that but these centers we’re setting up it’s really you can go in and use the services for free. Right? So they have been strategically placed. But yes, we must look now at penetration. In terms of internet penetration, in terms of bandwidth that means it allows you. You know, really, sometimes the kind of services that you’re engaging or the work you’re doing requires greater bandwidth and you might find things freezing up. That’s one of the things we don’t want because otherwise it really delays or affects the utilization of such a service.”

The forum was held in Belize City at the Belize Biltmore Plaza.

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